Jonathan Bath

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DNA can be used as a nanometre-scale construction material

Physics of self-assembly

DNA origami is a technique that allows a single-stranded DNA template to be folded into arbitrary shapes by annealing it with a set of short staple strands. The guiding design principle is that the target shape is the single most stable configuration. We've looked at how DNA origami folds by designing a system that can fold into a handful of different shapes from a single set of components (read more here with or without a subscription).

Molecular motors

DNA can be used to construct molecular motors. Autonomous and directional movement along a track can be coupled to hydrolysis of DNA fuel. Research highlights in the molecular motors theme include direct observation of a motor that steps along a track laid out on a DNA origami tile and a design of a molecular motor that can navigate a network of branched tracks.

AFM image of branched tracks

DNA-templated chemistry

We've built a simple molecular assembler that can execute a sequence of reactions to produce a polymer. There are two components: a set of 'instruction' strands that specify the reaction order and a set of 'chemistry' strands that deliver the chemical building blocks in the correct sequence. The sequence of reactions is recorded in a double-stranded DNA product.

Painting of DNA hairpin mechanism by Wenjing Meng

I teach the practical course for the SynBio CDT (Oxford/Warwick/Bristol). The course is based on the BioMod competition. Working in small groups, students design and execute a short research project. The image is e.m. data that was generated on the practical course as part of a project designed to program interactions between DNA origami 'bricks'.

DNA origami bricks (SynBio CDT)