This 3-D print shows the structure of a functional synthetic membrane channel constructed through DNA nanotechnology -- that is, using DNA molecules as programmable building materials for custom-designed, self-assembling nanometer-scale structures. This DNA-based membrane channel consists of a needle-like stem 42 nanometers long with an internal diameter of just two nanometers, partly sheathed by a barrel-shaped cap. A ring of cholesterol units around the edge of the cap helps the device "dock" to a lipid membrane while the stem sticks through it, forming a channel that appears capable of behaving like a biological ion channel. The device is formed by 54 double-helical DNA domains on a honeycomb lattice.
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