Tag Archives: DNA

Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2012 — Progress in stem cell research

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Recently, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was jointly awarded to Drs. John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka “for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent.” What does it mean to be pluripotent and why is it so important? Continue reading –>

Dr. John B. Gurdon (left) and Dr. Shinya Yamanaka (right)

 

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Controversy over a bacterium that grows in arsenic — an update

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Astrobiology Press Conference (201012020001HQ)

Dr. Felisa Wolfe-Simon at Astrobiology Press Conference

The upheaval in the scientific community revolving around the allegedly arsenic-exploiting bacterium has neared its end.

The turmoil started at the end of year 2010 when Dr. Felisa Wolfe-Simon, a NASA astrobiology fellow, reported that her team has isolated a strain of bacterium termed GFAJ-1 which not only can grow in arsenic-rich medium but also incorporates arsenic into its essential biomolecules, including DNA and proteins. (For more recap, check out my older post.) Arsenic is very similar to phosphorus. However, unlike phosphorus which is essential to living creatures, arsenic is poisonous. Continue reading –>

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Nanoscale emoticons made with DNA — origami vs. tiles

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Hi :-). The smiley face you see here is about 4 mm (or 0.17 of an inch) in length, depending on the font size you are using. Imagine shrinking it by 40,000 times! That is about the size of the smiley face made with synthetic DNA using nanotechnology.

DNA nanotechnology has been around for over 30 years, but the major breakthrough in the field was the development of the DNA origami in 2006. The DNA origami enabled the construction of more complex structures in about a week. The basic principle of the method is that one long, single-stranded DNA gets folded into a certain shape by about 200 short, single strands of DNA segments, or “staples.” This is possible because a single strand of DNA always pairs up with a complementary strand to form a double strand. This approach can be used to create both 2- or 3-dimensional structures. (Read more on DNA origami here.) Continue reading –>

Adapted from Rothemund and Andersen (2012) Nature.

 

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