MPI for Medical Research
24. April 2024
New Publi­ca­tion by Maja Illig in Nature Communications

Triggered contrac­tion of self-assem­bled micron-scale DNA nanotube rings

Maja Illig, Young Researcher of the Hector Fellow Academy, is first author of a ground­break­ing paper "Triggered contrac­tion of self-assem­bled micron-scale DNA nanotube rings", published in Nature Commu­ni­ca­tions in March 2024. She was super­vised by Hector RCD Awardee Dr Kerstin Göpfrich. For the first time, the research team has success­fully devel­oped a ring of DNA nanotubes that could be used in artifi­cial cell division.

After dupli­ca­tion and segre­ga­tion of the genetic infor­ma­tion, a ring of proteins forms during cell division, which contracts and separates the cell into two daugh­ter cells. This ring forma­tion is initi­ated by specific cross-linkers. In the DNA rings devel­oped by the researchers, the synthetic contrac­tion mecha­nism is no longer depen­dent on these cross-linking agents. Instead, the polymer rings contract due to molec­u­lar attraction.

The results have led to a better under­stand­ing of the forma­tion of DNA nanotube rings and the archi­tec­ture of their contrac­tile mecha­nism. These findings on DNA-based contrac­tile rings have the poten­tial to create artifi­cial machines for divid­ing or contract­ing muscle-like materials.