A dynamic gel made of DNA mechanically responds to stimuli in much the same way that cells do. This DNA gel, at only 10 microns in width, is roughly the size of a eukaryotic cell, the type of cell of which humans are made. The miniscule gel contains within it stiff DNA nanotubes linked together by longer, flexible DNA strands that serve as the substrate for molecular motors.

We won’t have artificial muscles and self-propelled goo just yet, but Omar Saleh and Deborah Fygenson of UC Santa Barbara feel like they have gotten a lot closer.


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