Making DNA Smile
Researcher coaxes long strands of DNA into predetermined geometric shapes
Designing nanostructures of DNA just got easier. Paul Rothemund, PhD, a senior research fellow at Caltech has found a way to coax a long strand of DNA into a predetermined geometric shape by mixing it together with some well-designed “staples” (oligonucleotides). After designing the shape and the staples on a computer, Rothemund has produced smiley faces, a map of the western hemisphere, stars, and a wide range of geometric shapes with good to excellent yields: between 60 and 90 percent of the time, the intended shape comes out perfectly. The work, which could have ramifications for the design of nanodevices, was published in the March 16, 2006 issue of Nature; more shapes can be seen at http://www.dna.caltech.edu/~pwkr/.