Scientists have developed an inexpensive method by which DNA origami self-assembles into large arrays with entirely customizable patterns, creating a sort of canvas that can display any image. To demonstrate this, the team created the world’s smallest recreation of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa — out of DNA. While DNA is perhaps best known for encoding the genetic information of living things, the molecule is also an excellent chemical building block. A single-stranded DNA molecule is composed of smaller molecules called nucleotides — abbreviated A, T, C and G — arranged in a string, or sequence. The team developed software that can take an image such as the Mona Lisa, divide it up into small square sections, and determine the DNA sequences needed to make up those squares. Using this online software tool and automatic liquid-handling techniques, several other patterns were designed and assembled from DNA strands, including a life-sized portrait of a bacterium and a bacterium-sized portrait of a rooster.
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