Molecular Robotics Laboratory Murata・Hamada / Nomura Laboratory Department of Bioengineering and Robotics Tohoku University

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DNA Nanoengineering

Structural DNA Nanotechnology

Structural DNA NanotechnologyDNA is a useful nanotechnology material. Thanks to the progress in biotechnology, it is now possible to synthesize DNA molecules with arbitrary base sequences at reasonable cost. DNA nanotechnology is the technology of using such artificial DNA to create molecules that self-assemble into any desired structure. There are two methods of building DNA nanostructures: DNA motifs and DNA Origamis. In the former method, the idea is to construct complex DNA structures by connecting sticky ends of branched DNA fragments (Figure: T-motif based DNA nanostructures assembled on a substrate surface). The latter is a way of folding long single-stranded DNA into a desired shape with many short single-stranded DNAs.

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DNA Computing

DNA ComputingDNA molecules turned out to be essential molecules to realize molecular logic circuits. DNA hybridization plays an essential role to guarantee high-yield reaction products and to suppress crosstalk between molecules when building multi-variable and multi-stage molecular logic gates (Figure: Algorithmic self-assembly of DNA tile that emulates multiple exclusive-OR operations in parallel).

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Toward Molecular Robotics

Toward Molecular RoboticsA robot is an artifact exhibiting intelligent behaviors by sensing-processing-actuating cycles. Thus, a molecular robot requires the facilities of sensors, actuators and intelligence as well as a compartment to integrate these facilities, all in molecules. DNA nanostructures and artificial liposomes can be used as a compartment of molecular robots. Sensing devices to detect weak signals in noisy environments and information processing functionalities will be realized by using aptamers, DNA logic gates and molecular switches. DNA actuators as well as biomolecular motors will be integrated into a molecular robot as actuating components (Figure: Concept of molecular robot).

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Artificial Cells

Construction of an artificial cell-model is one of the most "reasonable" approaches for understanding living cells. Giant liposomes with diameters of up to tens of micrometers have received considerable attention for the basis of such a cell model because they can be visualized by optical microscopy. Giant liposome encapsulated gene expression systems (see the following figure) have recently been investigated. In vitro gene expression system (sometimes called "central-dogma" of biology) installed in the giant liposomes can be regarded as a bootstrap sequence for creating a realistic cell-model. Recently, we have reported that functional protein synthesis was observed in cell-sized liposomes following encapsulation of a gene-expression system. Challenges to equip some crucial functions, such as an autonomously maintaining by themselves and a communication ability to their environments, are crucial steps for constructing an artificial cell system, and a supra-molecular robot.
人工細胞工学

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