doi:10.1038/nindia.2018.50 Published online 30 April 2018
Researchers have created logic gates – the building blocks of digital circuits – by using a combination of a novel fluorescent probe, DNA molecules and specific enzymes1. Such logic gates may be useful for designing intelligent biomolecular machines.
DNA molecules have the potential to store more data than conventional silicon-based computers. Besides, these biomolecules can perform calculations inside a live cell. However, the technology to make DNA-based computers is still in its infancy.
To exploit the computing potential of DNA, scientists from the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science in Kolkata, India, led by Jyotirmayee Dash, prepared the DNA-based reusable logic gates and integrated logic system.
In the integrated system, the probe was able to selectively detect a specific DNA structure found in telomeres that protect the end of a human chromosome. On binding to the DNA, the probe exhibited distinct light-emitting behaviour in the presence of nucleases, enzymes that degrade DNA. Such light-emitting properties were exploited to design novel logic gates that were eventually combined to form the complex logic system.
As a proof of principle, this complex system has been used in identifying non-zero square numbers up to 16.
These DNA logic gates will provide the ability to create not only more-complicated, sequential-DNA-based computations, but also interfaces between silicon- and DNA-based computers, says principal scientist Dash.
1. Debnath, M. et al. Enzyme-regulated DNA-based logic device. ACS. Synth. Biol. (2018) doi: 10.1021/acssynbio.8b00088