Physics - Physics of Living Cells Seminar

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Special CPLC Seminar: "Nucleic acid nanotechnology."

Event Type
Department of Physics and CPLC
276 Loomis
Feb 22, 2018   2:30 pm  
Dongran Han, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard University
Marjorie Gamel

The field of nucleic acid nanotechnology has utilized DNA and RNA, often outside of their biological context, to revolutionize the complexity and manufacture of artificial and functional nanoscale structures. Nucleic acids are ideal for this application because of their enormous information content and their ability to self-assemble based on this information. Each year brings new design methodologies and assemblies from the same raw materials.

As a DNA/RNA nanotechnologist, my vision and goal is to achieve a higher level of understanding over these molecules. With improved control and efficiency, creation of long-sought diagnostic or biomimetic nanorobots can be tackled. In this talk, I will briefly go over the history of DNA/RNA nanotechnology, and present my recent efforts in exploring new design strategies for assembling and controlling these nanostructures.

My previous work was comprised of two parts. One was to extend the toolbox for designing DNA/RNA nanostructures with novel structural and functional properties. Specifically, I will describe how to create a topological structure - the Mobius strip - at nanoscale, and how to transform it into an interlocked catenane with nano-scissors [1]. I will then present my strategies for the design of DNA origami structures with complex 3D curvature, exemplified by DNA spheres and nano-flasks [2]. Finally, I will illustrate the creation of DNA “gridiron” structures that introduced the concept of polygonal mesh construction to the field [3]. The second part of my work represents a breakthrough in creating replicable, single-stranded DNA and RNA origami [4], which may open the door to low cost, homogeneous, and safe nanorobotics for diagnostic and therapeutic applications.  



  1. Han, Dongran,  et        "Folding    and    cutting    DNA   into    reconfigurable    topological nanostructures." Nature nanotechnology 5.10 (2010): 712.
  2. Han, Dongran,  et      "DNA   origami   with   complex   curvatures   in   three-dimensional space." Science 332.6027 (2011): 342-346.
  3. Han, Dongran, et "DNA gridiron nanostructures based on four-arm junctions." Science 339.6126 (2013): 1412-1415.
  4. Han, Dongran, et "Single-stranded DNA and RNA origami." Science 358.6369 (2017): eaao2648.
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