Academic journal article The Science Teacher

New Twist on DNA

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

New Twist on DNA

Article excerpt

Scientists have combined bright fluorescent dye molecules with DNA nanostructure templates to make nanosized fluorescent labels that hold considerable promise for studying fundamental chemical and biochemical reactions in single molecules or cells (see image, p. 18). Published in The Journal of the American Chemical Society, the work could improve the sensitivity for fluorescence-based imaging and medical diagnostics.

"Our DNA nanotags offer unprecedented densities of fluorescent dyes and, thus, the potential for extremely bright fluorescent labels," explains graduate student Andrea Benvin, who developed the nanotags in the laboratory of Bruce Armitage, associate professor of chemistry in Carnegie Mellon University's College of Science. "We've put it all into a very small package, which will allow us to detect molecules with great sensitivity without interfering with the biological processes we are trying to understand."

The researchers modeled their DNA nanotags on the structure of phycobiliproteins. Found in certain types of algae, such as the red and blue algae in fresh and marine waters, these proteins contain multiple fluorescent pigments that work together to absorb light energy that is then transferred to chlorophyll, where it used for photosynthesis. …

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