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The world's smallest antenna made of DNA

The world’s smallest antenna made of DNA

Scientists have made the smallest antenna ever made, just five nanometers long. Unlike its much larger counterparts we all know, this little thing wasn’t made to transmit radio waves, but to constantly collect protein secrets. development.

Nanantina is made of DNA, the molecules that carry genetic instructions about 20,000 times smaller than a human hair. They are also fluorescent, which means they use light signals to record and report information. This fluorescence can be used to impart movement and change in proteins and their structure. Just like an antenna, or an LED if you want to see it differently.

Part of the innovation of this particular antenna is the way the receiving part of it is also used to detect the molecular surface of the protein it is studying. This produces a distinct signal when the protein is performing its biological function.

“Like a two-way radio that can both receive and transmit light, a fluorescent nanoantenna receives light of one color or wavelength, and depending on the movement of the protein it detects, it transmits light in another color that we can detect,” says chemist Alexis Vallée-Bélisle, of the University of Montreal. (UdeM) in Canada.

Specifically, the function of the antenna is to measure structural changes in proteins over time. Proteins are large, complex molecules that perform all kinds of essential tasks in cells and therefore also in complex bodies, from supporting the immune system to regulating organ function to the physical structure of the cells themselves. The antenna allows you to evaluate its development and changes.

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“Experimental study of trans-protein states remains a major challenge because high-resolution structural techniques, including nuclear magnetic resonance and X-ray crystallography, often cannot be directly applied to the study of short-lived protein states.” The team explains. in the article.

In this way, by studying proteins and their evolution, it is possible to understand cell physiology and pathology, as well as to understand how diseases spread. It’s a really cool step for the biological sciences.


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