DNA molecular motors

F. C. Simmel, B. Yurke

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Due to its simple and predictable molecular recognition chemistry, DNA is a versatile self-assembly molecule. Two strands of DNA most strongly bind together to form a double helix only when their base sequences are complementary. Here we show how this construction rule can be used to induce nanoscale motion. In particular, we have devised two DNA-based molecular motors powered by DNA. Both consist of two double-stranded arms held together at one end by a single-stranded flexible hinge. One motor, referred to as molecular tweezers, has two single-stranded extensions at the ends of the arms, which serve as handles used to pull the tweezers shut. The tweezers are closed when a particular piece of single-stranded DNA, called the fuel strand, hybridizes with the handles. In the other motor, referred to as an actuator, the single-stranded extensions are joined together so that the motor forms a loop-like structure. The fuel strand hybridizing with the actuator pushes the two arms apart. Both motors are returned to their original configuration by a removal strand which binds to a single-stranded overhang of the fuel strand and then removes the fuel strand from the motor strand by the process of branch migration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-428
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes
EventSmart Structures and Materials 2001-Industrial and Commercial Applications of Smart Structures Technologies- - Newport Beach, CA, United States
Duration: 5 Mar 20018 Mar 2001


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