The Design of a Molecular Assembly Line Based on Biological Molecules

Chow, B. "The Design of a Molecular Assembly Line Based on Biological Molecules"


A general scheme towards a "molecular assembly line" based on biological molecules is proposed, as well as its potential uses as a universal polymer scaffold in programmed assembly and molecular electronics. It is based on the principles of the biological molecules polyketide synthase and kinesin, and in some embodiments, may employ biomolecules like DNA as components of the system. The scheme entails the construction of a polymeric chain that moves a shuttle along the chain by controlling the interactions between the shuttle and individual monomer units using external inputs.

The experimental work here particularly focuses on the design and synthesis of the monomer units and shuttles, as well as the mechanisms of control over the monomer/shuttle interactions that are required to construct the proposed polymer systems. Two approaches are explored, the first of which utilizes radio-frequency magnetic fields to selectively dehybridize DNA by coupling RF to covalently attached nanoparticle antennae. The second approach utilizes wavelength selective photocleavage of carbonyl bonds to control the equilibrium of a Michael reaction, and will demonstrate how one can construct a purely synthetic analogue of a polyketide synthase.

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