A bio-hybrid DNA rotor–stator nanoengine that moves along predefined track

Biological motors are highly complex protein assemblies that generate linear or rotary motion, powered by chemical energy. Synthetic motors based on DNA nanostructures, bio-hybrid designs or synthetic organic chemistry have been assembled. However, unidirectionally rotating biomimetic wheel motors with rotor–stator units that consume chemical energy are elusive. Here, we report a bio-hybrid nanoengine consisting of a catalytic stator that unidirectionally rotates an interlocked DNA wheel, powered by NTP hydrolysis. The engine consists of an engineered T7 RNA polymerase (T7RNAP-ZIF) attached to a dsDNA nanoring that is catenated to a rigid rotating dsDNA wheel. The wheel motor produces long, repetitive RNA transcripts that remain attached to the engine and are used to guide its movement along predefined ssDNA tracks arranged on a DNA nanotube. The simplicity of the design renders this walking nanoengine adaptable to other biological nanoarchitectures, facilitating the construction of complex bio-hybrid structures that achieve NTP-driven locomotion.

Julián Valero, Nibedita Pal, Soma Dhakal, Nils G. Walter and Michael Famulok (2018). A bio-hybrid DNA rotor-stator nanoengine that moves along predefined tracks. Nature Nanotechnology, 13, 496–503.