Nanoblinker: Brownian motion powered bio-nanomachine for FRET detection of phagocytic phase of apoptosis

PLoS One. 2014 Sep 30;9(9):e108734. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0108734. eCollection 2014.


We describe a new type of bio-nanomachine which runs on thermal noise. The machine is solely powered by the random motion of water molecules in its environment and does not ever require re-fuelling. The construct, which is made of DNA and vaccinia virus topoisomerase protein, can detect DNA damage by employing fluorescence. It uses Brownian motion as a cyclic motor to continually separate and bring together two types of fluorescent hairpins participating in FRET. This bio-molecular oscillator is a fast and specific sensor of 5'OH double-strand DNA breaks present in phagocytic phase of apoptosis. The detection takes 30 s in solution and 3 min in cell suspensions. The phagocytic phase is critical for the effective execution of apoptosis as it ensures complete degradation of the dying cells' DNA, preventing release of pathological, viral and tumor DNA and self-immunization. The construct can be used as a smart FRET probe in studies of cell death and phagocytosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis*
  • Cell Line
  • DNA Breaks, Double-Stranded
  • DNA Probes / chemistry
  • DNA Probes / metabolism
  • DNA Topoisomerases / metabolism
  • Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer*
  • Fluorescent Dyes / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Macrophages / cytology
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Nanotechnology*
  • Phagocytosis
  • Vaccinia virus / enzymology
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism


  • DNA Probes
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Viral Proteins
  • DNA Topoisomerases