Through the use of some creative chemistry researchers have devised DNA cubes that can deliver molecular packages with precision that would make FedEx jealous. A geometrically genius team from McGill University crafted a piece of DNA origami that will only release it’s molecular payload when triggered by a specific mRNA. Here’s how they did it:
- Cubes were engineered without using bacteriophage DNA, allowing for it be used in a wider range of targets than previous DNA origami techniques.
- The DNA cubes begin in the stereotypical 3D form, but are then selectively unzipped into a flat 2D structure when it finds a predesigned mRNA sequence.
- The potential clinical power of DNA cubes was demonstrated in vitro by using a RNA marker known to be unique to human prostate cancer lines.
Check out this video mock up of the DNA Cubes in action:
Investigating the cubes after testing them out in live cells, the team designed some new mods that helped tweak their cubes rapid uptake and internalization, while still maintaining the magical unzipping properties.
Given this enormous potential it’s not hard to imagine a world where the specificity of these cubes could take genomic or (epi)genetic editing to it’s next frontier. Coming full…cube, this mechanism might one day be able to send epigenetic therapeutics like 5-aza, HDACs, and ncRNAs into the cell types of interest to curb the troubling off-target global effects.
Take a crack at this nucleic Rubik’s cube in Chemical Science, April 2014