Naturally occurring mini motors, such as the bacterial flagellar motor, are typically made from proteins. Unfortunately proteins are very complicated. They have twenty different kinds of subunit (amino acids), and the forces which determine their three-dimensional structure are exceedingly complex. This makes it very difficult to design proteins from scratch, but DNA is comparatively simple to work with, since there are only four types of subunit, which pair up in a highly predictable fashion. As a result there are a number of scientists – including several in the Mini Motors team - working on DNA motors, tiny locomotive devices made out of DNA. Here, we are taking DNA out of its usual biological context and using it to perform a different function. Rather than acting as an information store for a living organism, here DNA is the material out of which the motors are made, and also the fuel to drive them.
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