How can nanotechnology be applied in DNA genotyping? Ankita Raj, Virginia

Updated: May 24, 2020


Abstract

In the past century, science has revolutionized immensely in comparison to previous generations. The discoveries and introductions of Nanotechnology and DNA Genotyping are among them, creating new realms of research and development. Incorporating Nanotechnology into DNA Genotyping aided in manipulating the DNA sequences and methods of DNA folding to increase the efficiency of Genotyping to detect genetic differences in various individuals.


Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology is any activity conducted in the STEM realm at the “nanoscale” or the length of 1-100 nanometers. For size comparison, an inch is equivalent to about 25,400,000 nanometers. A crucial term under the umbrella of nanotechnology is nanofactories: miniscule manufacturing systems which work to manipulate and interact with atoms in order to create complex formations. A single animal cell demonstrates this concept by having multiple organelles with their own purposes and functions at the nanoscale.


The concept of nanotechnology essentially began at the California Institute of Technology during a seminar led by physicist Richard Feynman entitled “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom” during a meeting of the American Physical Society in 1959. During his seminar, Feynman introduced and elaborated on the prospect of scientists having the ability to interact with and alter individual atoms and molecules. Eventually in 1981, the scanning tunneling microscope which allowed for viewing objects at the atomic level was developed. This invention allowed discoveries and Raj 2 observations in the branch of nanotechnology to commence. Modern examples of nanotechnology include metal nanoparticles such as silver being used in bandages and hand washes due to their antimicrobial qualities.


DNA Genotyping

The purpose of DNA genotyping is to detect the differences in an individual’s genetic makeup through the examination of the individual’s DNA sequence, and is generally used to detect biological differences in a population. This process views specific locations of DNA through microarrays. DNA microarrays are slides which contain numerous oligonucleotide (short DNA or RNA molecules) sequences. Through the utilization of this tool, biologists are able to measure the expression levels of genes at once. Each oligonucleotide sequence or DNA spot contains picomoles, also called probes, of the DNA sequence which it represents. The microarray approach to DNA genotyping has helped develop the idea that DNA could be related to certain health conditions including heart disease and diabetes.


Another genotyping approach is known as Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (RFLP), which arises from DNA sequence variations that restriction enzymes identify and is used as a marker while reading genetic maps. Restriction enzymes are enzymes which cut DNA into smaller pieces at certain nucleotide sequences. RFLP fragments are detected after DNA fragments cut by the restriction enzyme through restriction digest. DNA genotyping is a process which consists of various approaches, those including RFLP and microarrays.

Nanotechnology Applications in DNA Genotyping

A crucial implementation of nanotechnology in DNA genotyping is DNA origami which is the folding of DNA at the nanoscale with each DNA strand containing 200-300 nucleotides. This process aids in the creation of DNA nanostructures which allow for specific binding as well as precise and accurate labeling. A type of DNA called scaffold DNA is utilized as a guiding factor for DNA origami by strengthening the efficiency of the folding. This crossover structure and method is supported by the scaffold DNA.

DNA origami has recently been discovered to be utilized in an abundant range of fields and situations including cancer therapy. DNA origami allows for the process of Label-Free Single-Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) Genotyping which essentially measures the genetic variations of different SNPs in a given biological population. SNPs are a type of single base pair mutation and have recently been found to be the cause of numerous diseases impacting humans. Microarrays come into play yet again with SNPs, allowing several SNPs to be viewed simultaneously. The probes or picomoles are also present in this process and allow for the interrogation of the multitudinous SNPs and various loci or locations, which aids in the differentiation of the homozygous and heterozygous alleles of the SNPs. Through Label-Free SNP Genotyping, SNPs can be detected and analyzed for their double-allele variations. Raj 4

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