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Published July 29, 2007 | public
Journal Article

An autonomous polymerization motor powered by DNA hybridization


We present a synthetic molecular motor capable of autonomous nanoscale transport in solution. Inspired by bacterial pathogens such as Rickettsia rickettsii, which locomote by inducing the polymerization of the protein actin at their surfaces to form 'comet tails', the motor operates by polymerizing a double-helical DNA tail. DNA strands are propelled processively at the living end of the growing polymers, demonstrating autonomous locomotion powered by the free energy of DNA hybridization.

Additional Information

© 2007 Nature Publishing Group. Received 14 March 2007; accepted 27 June 2007; published 29 July 2007. We thank J. S. Bois for helpful discussions, J. Padilla for performing the early sequence design calculations, J. N. Zadeh for the use of unpublished multi-objective sequence design software, J. M. Schaeffer for the use of unpublished multi-stranded kinetics simulation software and R. Barish and R. Hariadi for guidance on the use of DNA origamis for patterning polymerization reactions. This work was funded by NSF-CCF-CAREER-0448835, NSF-CHE-0533064 (Center for Molecular Cybernetics), NSF-CCF-0622254, NSF-DMS-0506468.

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