RNA forms nanomotor

March 12/19, 2003

Researchers from Purdue University have constructed a tiny motor from DNA and RNA molecules. The device, fueled by ATP, which powers our own movements, could eventually power nanomachines.

The motor measures about 30 nanometers long, which is less than one hundredth the size of a red blood cell.

It is made from six strands of RNA surrounding a center strand of DNA. In the presence of ATP, the RNA strands push the DNA axle in succession, spinning it around. This produces 50 to 60 piconewtons, or trillionths of a newton of force. A falling apple exerts about one newton of force.

The motor has potential in biological applications as well. The researchers have driven the tiny motor axle through the protective protein coat of a virus. The motor could eventually be used to deliver genes or therapeutic molecules into live cells, according to the researchers.

The motor could be used in practical applications in two to five years, according to the researchers. The work appeared in the February issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry. -TECHNOLOGY RESEARCH NEWSW

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