Researchers create a Nanoantenna, the World’s Tiniest Antenna to Monitor the Motions of Proteins

Protein molecules carry all kinds of essential tasks in the body. Their primary role is to support the immune system to regulate organ functions. However, according to scientists, proteins undergo constant structural changes. And in their desire to track these changes, chemists at the Université de Montréal have used DNA to create a nanoantenna.

The gadget is 20,000 times smaller than the strand of hair can receive light in one color and transmit it back in different colors. Thus, it is reportedly the world’s tiniest antenna used to monitor proteins’ structural changes in real-time.

How the Nanoantenna Works and the Essence of Using DNA to Track Proteins

According to the researchers, the “Lego-like” properties of DNA inspired the new technology. The first DNA synthesizer developed some four decades ago also triggered the need for a more advanced way of tracking structural changes.

The functioning of the DNA-based fluorescent Nanoantenna is likened to the operation of a two-way radio that receives and transmits radio waves. The Nanoantenna will detect the light from whichever color, but it can transmit it in another color.

The DNA’s chemistry is programmable and straightforward, and so is the engineering of nanoantennas. Scott Harroun, a doctoral student in chemistry at UdeM and the first study author, says this is the technology’s primary advantage. In addition, the nanoantennas are easy to tweak to optimize their function and size. Hence making them usable in various functions.

And the final achievement is in tuning the nanoantenna design into a five nanometer-long antenna that produces a distinct signal.

There are Important Implications of Using nanoantennas in Biochemistry and Nanotechnology.

With the increasing scientific innovation around the globe, Harroun explains that DNA has more chances of use, particularly in biochemistry and nanotechnology. For example, it could be used to detect the function of the enzyme alkaline phosphatase.

“This enzyme has been implicated in many diseases, including various cancers and intestinal inflammation,” Harroun explained. “In addition to helping us understand how natural nanomachines function or malfunction, consequently leading to disease, this new method can also help chemists identify promising new drugs….,” Dominic Lauzon, a co-author of the study, added.

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