Direct and real-time observation of rotary movement of a DNA nanomechanical device

J Am Chem Soc. 2013 Jan 23;135(3):1117-23. doi: 10.1021/ja310454k. Epub 2013 Jan 11.


Analogous to the biologically abundant protein-based linear molecular machines that translocate along their target surface, we have recently constructed the DNA-based synthetic molecular motors that effect linear movement or navigate a network of tracks on a DNA origami substrate. However, a DNA-based molecular machine with rotary function, analogous to rotary proteins, is still unexplored. Here, we report the construction of a rotary motor based on the B-Z conformational transition of DNA and the direct and real-time observation of its function within a frame-shaped DNA origami. The motor can be switched off by introducing conditions that stabilize B-DNA, while it can be fueled by adding Z-DNA-promoting high-saline buffer. When MgCl(2) was used as external stimulus, 70% of the motors rotated, while 76% of the stators/controls exhibited no rotation. Such a motor system could be successfully applied to perform multiple actions aimed for our benefit. Moreover, for the first time we have directly observed the B-Z conformational transition of DNA in real-time, which shed light on the fundamental understanding of DNA conformations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • DNA, Single-Stranded / chemistry*
  • Magnesium Chloride / chemistry
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Rotation*
  • Time Factors


  • DNA, Single-Stranded
  • Magnesium Chloride