Programming Biomolecular Function
DNA is the primary genetic storage medium for life, while RNA plays more varied biological roles, participating in storage, regulation, catalysis and synthesis. In these capacities, nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) have evolved unique structural properties that make them attractive raw materials for engineering molecular devices. By appropriately designing the sequence of bases in each strand, synthetic nucleic acid systems can be programmed to self-assemble into complex structures that implement dynamic mechanical tasks.
Motivated by the goal of encoding arbitrary mechanical function into nucleic acid sequences, we are working to develop computational algorithms for the analysis and design of equilibrium and kinetic properties of nucleic acid systems. In the laboratory, we are focused on constructing molecular sensors, transducers and motors for therapeutic, bioimaging, and transport applications.
These computational and experimental research thrusts contribute to our long-term vision of developing a "compiler for biomolecular function" that takes as input a modular conceptual device design and provides as output a list of biomolecules that interact to implement the desired function.