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Issue 24, 2014
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Fluidic switching in nanochannels for the control of Inchworm: a synthetic biomolecular motor with a power stroke

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Abstract

Synthetic molecular motors typically take nanometer-scale steps through rectification of thermal motion. Here we propose Inchworm, a DNA-based motor that employs a pronounced power stroke to take micrometer-scale steps on a time scale of seconds, and we design, fabricate, and analyze the nanofluidic device needed to operate the motor. Inchworm is a kbp-long, double-stranded DNA confined inside a nanochannel in a stretched configuration. Motor stepping is achieved through externally controlled changes in salt concentration (changing the DNA's extension), coordinated with ligand-gated binding of the DNA's ends to the functionalized nanochannel surface. Brownian dynamics simulations predict that Inchworm's stall force is determined by its entropic spring constant and is ∼0.1 pN. Operation of the motor requires periodic cycling of four different buffers surrounding the DNA inside a nanochannel, while keeping constant the hydrodynamic load force on the DNA. We present a two-layer fluidic device incorporating 100 nm-radius nanochannels that are connected through a few-nm-wide slit to a microfluidic system used for in situ buffer exchanges, either diffusionally (zero flow) or with controlled hydrodynamic flow. Combining experiment with finite-element modeling, we demonstrate the device's key performance features and experimentally establish achievable Inchworm stepping times of the order of seconds or faster.

Graphical abstract: Fluidic switching in nanochannels for the control of Inchworm: a synthetic biomolecular motor with a power stroke

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Publication details

The article was received on 15 Aug 2014, accepted on 06 Oct 2014 and first published on 08 Oct 2014


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C4NR04701J
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Citation: Nanoscale, 2014,6, 15008-15019
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    Fluidic switching in nanochannels for the control of Inchworm: a synthetic biomolecular motor with a power stroke

    C. S. Niman, M. J. Zuckermann, M. Balaz, J. O. Tegenfeldt, P. M. G. Curmi, N. R. Forde and H. Linke, Nanoscale, 2014, 6, 15008
    DOI: 10.1039/C4NR04701J

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