A DNA robot that can assemble itself to explore the cell

A DNA robot that can assemble itself to explore the cell  When someone pats you on the shoulder, the receptors on the surface of the skin cells transmit this mechanical force applied to them into the cell, and then to different parts of the nervous system, resulting in the sensation of touch.  Despite the development of techniques that monitor the effect of mechanical forces on the different components of the cell, they are still limited in productivity and very expensive and require a lot of time and effort.  To overcome these obstacles, scientists from the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Institute national de la santé et de la recherche médicale) used DNA to design a small robot that can exert mechanical forces inside the cell and explore the processes affected by it, enabling them to find a less expensive method. And more able to monitor minute changes resulting from mechanical forces inside the cell. The study was published in the journal Nature Communications on July 28.  Physical forces that generate vital signs Cells sense the amount of these mechanical forces using some receptors (known as mechanoreceptors) on the cell surface, which in turn transmit them to the inside of the cell, specifically to motor and structural proteins, which leads to the translation of these physical forces into biochemical signals .  Mechanoreceptors regulate other key biological processes such as blood vessel constriction, pain sensation, and breathing, as well as the ear's detection and discrimination of sound waves.  There are some techniques that scientists have developed to measure the amount of these forces inside the cell, and to study how these forces affect biological processes. Atomic force microscopy and magnetic and optical tweezers are among these techniques.  The developers of the initial version - known as the scanning tunneling microscope - of the atomic force microscope won the Nobel Prize in 1986 , and the developers of the optical tweezers won the Nobel Prize in 2018 . However, these techniques require a lot of time and effort, and you cannot monitor many changes at once.  A natural robot from DNA So the scientists decided to use a technique known as " DNA origami" as a building block to design this 3-structure nanorobot. The robot designed thanks to this technology was able to affect proteins and cellular receptors with a certain amount of mechanical force, and then monitor the changes that occur to them.  DNA origami is a modern method that uses the building blocks (base pairs) that make up DNA to design mechanisms that can function as robots with specific tasks and structures. Because these building blocks have a specific shape, scientists can program their assembly to fold and self-assemble into three-dimensional nanostructures that can perform the task for which they were designed. This technology is one of the fields of modern science that has contributed to making huge developments in the field of nanotechnology during the past decade only.  The results of the researchers showed that the size of the nanometric robot that was designed perfectly corresponds to the size of a human cell. This robot was also able to apply mechanical forces, as well as control their amount with accuracy up to one "piconewton" (i.e. one trillionth of a newton, knowing that one newton is equivalent to the force with which a finger presses on the pen).  Huge apps According to the press release published by the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research in response to the study, this nanorobot will enable scientists to closely study mechanical forces at the microscopic level, which will help to understand the physiological and pathological processes associated with them.  This is the first time that a self-assembled, human-made DNA-based robot has been developed that can apply so little mechanical force with such precision to cell proteins.  Of course, such a robot would help expand our knowledge of the cellular pathways that are affected by mechanical forces. For example, defects in cellular mechanical processes are associated with many diseases such as cancer. Cancer cells move to another location after exploring the mechanical properties of their surroundings. Hence, understanding the mechanistic nature of the cancer environment using this type of robot may be useful in probing one of the most important mechanisms of cancer disease, which is its transmission from one place to another.  In fact, this tool is very useful. They can be used to understand the molecular cellular mechanisms involved in responding to mechanical forces, which will help discover new cellular receptors that can sense mechanical forces. This robot will also allow the study of cellular pathways - more precisely - at the same time that those pathways are affected by mechanical forces.

When someone pats you on the shoulder, the receptors on the surface of the skin cells transmit this mechanical force applied to them into the cell, and then to different parts of the nervous system, resulting in the sensation of touch.

Despite the development of techniques that monitor the effect of mechanical forces on the different components of the cell, they are still limited in productivity and very expensive and require a lot of time and effort.

To overcome these obstacles, scientists from the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Institute national de la santé et de la recherche médicale) used DNA to design a small robot that can exert mechanical forces inside the cell and explore the processes affected by it, enabling them to find a less expensive method. And more able to monitor minute changes resulting from mechanical forces inside the cell. The study was published in the journal Nature Communications on July 28.

Physical forces that generate vital signs
Cells sense the amount of these mechanical forces using some receptors (known as mechanoreceptors) on the cell surface, which in turn transmit them to the inside of the cell, specifically to motor and structural proteins, which leads to the translation of these physical forces into biochemical signals .

Mechanoreceptors regulate other key biological processes such as blood vessel constriction, pain sensation, and breathing, as well as the ear's detection and discrimination of sound waves.

There are some techniques that scientists have developed to measure the amount of these forces inside the cell, and to study how these forces affect biological processes. Atomic force microscopy and magnetic and optical tweezers are among these techniques.

The developers of the initial version - known as the scanning tunneling microscope - of the atomic force microscope won the Nobel Prize in 1986 , and the developers of the optical tweezers won the Nobel Prize in 2018 . However, these techniques require a lot of time and effort, and you cannot monitor many changes at once.

A natural robot from DNA
So the scientists decided to use a technique known as " DNA origami" as a building block to design this 3-structure nanorobot. The robot designed thanks to this technology was able to affect proteins and cellular receptors with a certain amount of mechanical force, and then monitor the changes that occur to them.

DNA origami is a modern method that uses the building blocks (base pairs) that make up DNA to design mechanisms that can function as robots with specific tasks and structures. Because these building blocks have a specific shape, scientists can program their assembly to fold and self-assemble into three-dimensional nanostructures that can perform the task for which they were designed. This technology is one of the fields of modern science that has contributed to making huge developments in the field of nanotechnology during the past decade only.

The results of the researchers showed that the size of the nanometric robot that was designed perfectly corresponds to the size of a human cell. This robot was also able to apply mechanical forces, as well as control their amount with accuracy up to one "piconewton" (i.e. one trillionth of a newton, knowing that one newton is equivalent to the force with which a finger presses on the pen).

Huge apps
According to the press release published by the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research in response to the study, this nanorobot will enable scientists to closely study mechanical forces at the microscopic level, which will help to understand the physiological and pathological processes associated with them.

This is the first time that a self-assembled, human-made DNA-based robot has been developed that can apply so little mechanical force with such precision to cell proteins.

Of course, such a robot would help expand our knowledge of the cellular pathways that are affected by mechanical forces. For example, defects in cellular mechanical processes are associated with many diseases such as cancer. Cancer cells move to another location after exploring the mechanical properties of their surroundings. Hence, understanding the mechanistic nature of the cancer environment using this type of robot may be useful in probing one of the most important mechanisms of cancer disease, which is its transmission from one place to another.

In fact, this tool is very useful. They can be used to understand the molecular cellular mechanisms involved in responding to mechanical forces, which will help discover new cellular receptors that can sense mechanical forces. This robot will also allow the study of cellular pathways - more precisely - at the same time that those pathways are affected by mechanical forces.
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