The DNA origami method, in which long, single-stranded DNA segments are folded into shapes by short staple segments, was used to create nucleic acid probe tiles that are molecular analogs of macroscopic DNA chips. One hundred trillion probe tiles were fabricated in one step and bear pairs of 20-nucleotide-long single-stranded DNA segments that act as probe sequences. These tiles can hybridize to their targets in solution and, after adsorption onto mica surfaces, can be examined by atomic force microscopy in order to quantify binding events, because the probe segments greatly increase in stiffness upon hybridization. The nucleic acid probe tiles have been used to study position-dependent hybridization on the nanoscale and have also been used for label-free detection of RNA.
Archive for February, 2010
A nanopore-based device provides single-molecule detection and analytical capabilities that are achieved by electrophoretically driving molecules in solution through a nano-scale pore. The nanopore provides a highly confined space within which single nucleic acid polymers can be analyzed at high throughput by one of a variety of means, and the perfect processivity that can be enforced in a narrow pore ensures that the native order of the nucleobases in a polynucleotide is reflected in the sequence of signals that is detected. Kilobase length polymers (single-stranded genomic DNA or RNA) or small molecules (e.g., nucleosides) can be identified and characterized without amplification or labeling, a unique analytical capability that makes inexpensive, rapid DNA sequencing a possibility. Further research and development to overcome current challenges to nanopore identification of each successive nucleotide in a DNA strand offers the prospect of ‘third generation’ instruments that will sequence a diploid mammalian genome for ~$1,000 in ~24 h.
Characterization of an antibody scFv that recognizes fibrillar insulin and β-amyloid using atomic force microscopy (pdf)Saturday, February 27th, 2010
Fibrillar amyloid is the hallmark feature of many protein aggregation diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. A monoclonal single-chain variable fragment (scFv) targeting insulin fibrils was isolated using phage display technology and an atomic force microscopy (AFM) mica substrate. Specific targeting of the scFv to insulin fibrils but not monomers or other small oligomeric forms, under similar conditions, was demonstrated both by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays and AFM recognition imaging. The scFv also recognizes β-amyloid fibrils, a hallmark feature of Alzheimer’s disease. The results suggest that the isolated scFv possibly targets a shared fibrillar motif—probably the cross-β-sheet characteristic of amyloid fibrils. The techniques outlined here provide additional tools to further study the process of fibril formation. The scFvs isolated can have potential use as diagnostic or therapeutic reagents for protein aggregation diseases.
Background: Direct visualization of chromatin has the potential to provide important insights into epigenetic processes. In particular, atomic force microscopy (AFM) can visualize single nucleosomes under physiological ionic conditions. However, AFM has mostly been applied to chromatin that has been reconstituted in vitro, and its potential as a tool for the dissection of native nucleosomes has not been explored. Recently we applied AFM to native Drosophila chromatin containing the centromere-specific histone 3 (CenH3), showing that it is greatly enriched in smaller particles. Taken together with biochemical analyses of CenH3 nucleosomes, we propose that centromeric nucleosomes are hemisomes, with one turn of DNA wrapped around a particle
consisting of one molecule each of centromere-specific CenH3, H4, H2A and H2B.
Results: Here we apply a recognition mode of AFM imaging to directly identify CenH3 within histone core particles released from native centromeric chromatin. More than 90% of these particles were found to be tetrameric in height. The specificity of recognition was confirmed by blocking with a CenH3 peptide, and the strength of the interaction was quantified by force measurements. These results imply that the particles imaged by AFM are indeed mature CenH3- containing hemisomes.
Conclusion: Efficient and highly specific recognition of CenH3 in histone core particles isolated from native centromeric chromatin demonstrates that tetramers are the predominant form of centromeric nucleosomes in mature tetramers. Our findings provide proof of principle that this approach can yield insights into chromatin biology using direct and rapid detection of native nucleosomes in physiological salt concentrations.
We report the fabrication of devices in which one single-walled carbon nanotube spans a barrier between two fluid reservoirs, enabling direct electrical measurement of ion transport through the tube. A fraction of the tubes pass anomalously high ionic currents. Electrophoretic transport of small single-stranded DNA oligomers through these tubes is marked by large transient increases in ion current and was confirmed by polymerase chain reaction analysis. Each current pulse contains about 107 charges, an enormous amplification of the translocated charge. Carbon nanotubes simplify the construction of nanopores, permit new types of electrical measurements, and may open avenues for control of DNA translocation.
Developing DNA tiles for oligonucleotide hybridization assay with higher accuracy and efficiency (pdf)Saturday, February 27th, 2010
We demonstrate the versatility of a DNA tile system for oligonucleotide hybridization assay and explored the detection limit of the probe tiles for DNA targets of varied lengths.
Studies on the stability of nucleosome core particles as a function of concentration have indicated a lower limit of ~5 ng/mL, below which the complexes start to spontaneously destabilize. Until recently little information was available on the effect of low concentration on chromatin. Using the well-characterized array of tandemly repeated 5S rDNA reconstituted into chromatin, we have investigated the effect of dilution. In this study, we demonstrate that the stability of saturated nucleosomal arrays and that of nucleosome core particles are within the same order of magnitude, and no significant loss of histones is monitored down to a concentration of 2.5 ng/mL. We observed that levels of subsaturation of the nucleosomal arrays were directly correlated with an increased sensitivity to histone loss, suggesting a shielding effect. The loss of histones from our linear nucleosomal arrays was shown not to be random, with a significant likelihood to occur at the end of the template than toward the center. This observation indicates that centrally located nucleosomes are more stable than those close to the end of the DNA templates. Itis important to take this information into account for the proper design of experiments pertaining to histone composition and the folding ability of chromatin samples.
Histone acetylation plays an important role in the regulation of gene expression. A DNA aptamer generated by in vitro selection to be highly specific for histone H4 protein acetylated at lysine 16 was used as a recognition element for atomic force microscopy-based recognition imaging of synthetic nucleosomal arrays with precisely controlled acetylation. The aptamer proved to be reasonably specific at recognizing acetylated histones, with recognition efficiencies of 60% on-target and 12% off-target. Though this selectivity is much poorer than the >2000:1 equilibrium specificity of the aptamer, it is a large improvement on the performance of a ChIP-quality antibody, which is not selective at all in this application, and it should permit high-fidelity recognition with repeated imaging. The ability to image the precise location of posttranslational modifications may permit nanometer-scale investigation of their effect on chromatin structure.