World's Smallest Antenna

World's Smallest Antenna
The fluorescent nanoantenna designed by Alexis Vallée-Bélisle and his team, like a two-way radio that can both receive and transmit radio waves, receives light in one color and transmits light back in another color depending on the protein movement it detects, and we can detect that too. One of the main innovations of these nanoantennas is that the receiving part of the antenna (bright green) is also used to sense the molecular surface of the studied protein through molecular interaction. Permission: Caitlin Monne

Chemists from the University of Montreal are using DNA to build the world's smallest antenna. Researchers have created a nanoantenna to track the movement of proteins. The device, reported this week in Nature Methods, is a new method for tracking the structural change of proteins over time and could go a long way in helping scientists better understand natural and human-designed nanotechnologies.

DNA Based Antenna

More than 40 years ago, researchers invented the first DNA synthesizer to create molecules that encode genetic information. "In recent years, chemists have realized that DNA can be used to create a variety of nanostructures and nanomachines," added the researcher, who also holds the Canadian Research Chair in Bioengineering and Bionanotechnology.

"Inspired by the 'Lego-like' properties of DNA with building blocks typically 20.000 times smaller than a human hair, we created a DNA-based fluorescent nanoantenna that could help characterize the function of proteins," he said.

“Like a two-way radio that can both receive and transmit radio waves, the fluorescent nanoantenna picks up light of one color or wavelength and transmits it back in another color that we can detect, depending on the protein motion it detects. ”

One of the main innovations of these nanoantennas is that the receiving part of the antenna is also used to sense the molecular surface of the studied protein through molecular interaction.

“The results are so exciting that we are currently trying to start a startup company to commercialize this nanoantenna and make it available to most researchers and the pharmaceutical industry,” said Alexis Vallée-Bélisle, professor of chemistry at UdeM, senior author of the study.

“One of the main advantages of using DNA to design these nanoantennas is that the DNA chemistry is relatively simple and programmable,” says author Scott Harroun.

“DNA-based nanoantennas can be synthesized in different lengths and flexibility to optimize their functionality,” he said. “A fluorescent molecule can easily be added to DNA and then this fluorescent nanoantenna can be attached to a biological nanomachine such as an enzyme. By carefully tuning the nanoantenna design, we created a five-nanometer-long antenna that produces a different signal as the protein performs its biological function.

Scientists believe fluorescent nanoantennas open up many exciting avenues in biochemistry and nanotechnology.

“For example, we were able to detect, for the first time and in real time, the function of the alkaline phosphatase enzyme with various biological molecules and drugs,” Harroun said. “This enzyme has been associated with many diseases, including various cancers and intestinal inflammation.

"As well as helping us understand how natural nanomachines work or malfunction to cause disease, this new method could also help chemists identify promising new drugs and guide nanoengineers in developing advanced nanomachines," said Dominic Lauzon, one of the study's authors.

One main advance these nanoantennas provide is ease of use, the scientists said. “Perhaps what excites us most is the fact that many laboratories around the world equipped with a conventional spectrofluorometer can easily use these nanoantennas to study their favorite proteins, such as identifying new drugs or developing new nanotechnologies,” the scientists explain.

source: physorg

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