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DNA Prefers to Dive Head First Into Nanopores

January 8, 2013
A preference for diving head first

When a DNA strand is captured and pulled through a nanopore, it’s much more likely to start the journey at one of its ends (top left) rather than being grabbed somewhere in the middle and pulled through in a folded configuration. Credit: Stein lab/Brown University

Graduate student Mirna Mihovilivic observed single molecules of DNA being drawn through nanopores by electrical current and figured out why they most often travel head first. The research, published in the journal Physical Review Letters, looks at the dynamics of how DNA molecules are captured by solid-state nanopores, tiny holes that soon may help sequence DNA at lightning speed.

The study found that when a DNA strand is captured and pulled through a nanopore, it’s much more likely to start the journey at one of its ends, rather than being grabbed somewhere in the middle and pulled through in a folded configuration. Mihovilivic and Haggerty worked with assistant professor of physics Derek Stein on this research.

Read more about DNA and nanopores in Kevin Stacey's article.