Research

DNA prefers to dive head first into nanopores

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

If you want to understand a novel, it helps to start from the beginning rather than trying to pick up the plot from somewhere in the middle. The same goes for analyzing a strand of DNA. The best way to make sense of it is to look at it head to tail. Luckily, according to a new study by physicists at Brown University, DNA molecules have a convenient tendency to cooperate.

 

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.