Down to the DNA: Origami Art

1037197_dna_3Deoxyribonucleic acid, also known as DNA, is a self-replacing material that is the building block for everything in the body, dictating length of each hair follicles, color of the eyes and even how many cells will be in a particular part of the brain.

What normally looks like a twisted up ladder with connecting dots has been re-designed at Bellevue College. The Experimental Biology Group, advised by Gita Bangera, will be hosting a DNA Origami event until March 1.

The concept of “DNA Origami” didn’t start with a BC student. It was developed by a man named Paul Rothemund at the California Institute of Technology. Members of the Experimental Biology Group will be using Rothemund’s methods of folding long singular strands of “viral” DNA and smaller “staple” strands of DNA to showcase the way these pieces of DNA binding and as a result, creating various shapes.

According to the project plan submitted to Student Programs office on Nov. 17, 2012, the summary of this educational project is to design and assemble DNA nanostructures. Kiee Phong, the project manager of the event indicated two goals of the project. One was to “Construct the word ‘BC’ on the molecular level using DNA,” and to “Introduce and familiarize students with working with DNA”.

The project was also designed to contribute to pluralism and “encourage students to engage more in science, introducing them to techniques and equipment that are frequently used in biological laboratories.”

Something that should set this event apart from all the others, as if making “BC” out of DNA wasn’t enough, is that the group will not just be using a slide show or fancy computer program to create the end goal of DNA Origami. They are partnering with some big name companies and corporations to help gain the needed materials.

The group planned to work with Bayou Biolabs, Macrogen, QIAgen, Ted Pella and Thermo Fisher Scientific Incorporated. These companies will supply materials adding up to $3,012 as listed on the group’s “Supplementary Cost Breakdown” as part of their project plan.

This may seem like a big chunk of change, but it is all going to supply the funds to purchase intense supplies such as actual strands of DNA, scaffolds, QIA quick Gel Extraction kits, specimen discs, and more.

How’s that for a science project? Originally only having a sum of $50 in  their account, the program reached out to Bellevue College for financial support.

Having submited a funding request to the ASG for the full $3,012 and asking for financial support through the other science partners at Bellevue College, the group is confident that they can come up with the funds for this project.

While the funding request was tabled by ASG and eventually pulled by the group, therefore it is assumed  that they received their funding elsewhere from the school.

If interested in experiencing the bonding of viral and staple DNA strands along with becoming more familiarized with the techniques and materials commonly used in biological laboratories, head down to S-110 before Mar. 1 and see just what BC’s Experimental Biology Group has to show.