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Author Notes:

E-mail: k.salaita@emory.edu

K.Y. conducted all the experiments and analysis, A.M. performed the simulations and theoretical validation, S.V. helped in the data analysis and validation of the theoretical model, Y.Z. helped with particle functionalization, Y.L. collected SIM data, M.F. assisted with SNP detection, K.S. and K.Y. wrote the manuscript with input from A.M. and E.R.W., K.S. oversaw all the aspects of the work and E.R.W. supervised and discussed the experiments with S.V.

We also thank S. Urazhdin for access to the thermal evaporator and M. Grover and D. Stabley for helpful discussions.

The authors declare no competing financial interests.


Research Funding:

K.S. is grateful for support from the National Institutes of Health through R01-GM097399, the Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, the Camille–Dreyfus Teacher–Scholar Award and the National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award (1350829).

K.Y. thanks the ARCS Foundation for their support and V. Pui-Yan Ma for generating Fig. 1.

E.R.W. was funded by the NSF (CMMI-1250235) and S.V. was funded by Emory University

This research project was supported in part by the Emory University Integrated Cellular Imaging Microscopy Core.


  • DNA nanomachines
  • molecular machines and motors
  • surfaces
  • interfaces and thin films

High-speed DNA-based rolling motors powered by RNase H

Journal Title:

Nature Nanotechnology


Volume 11, Number 2


, Pages 184-190

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


DNA-based machines that walk by converting chemical energy into controlled motion could be of use in applications such as next-generation sensors, drug-delivery platforms and biological computing. Despite their exquisite programmability, DNA-based walkers are challenging to work with because of their low fidelity and slow rates (∼1 nm min–1). Here we report DNA-based machines that roll rather than walk, and consequently have a maximum speed and processivity that is three orders of magnitude greater than the maximum for conventional DNA motors. The motors are made from DNA coated spherical particles that hybridize to a surface modified with complementary RNA; the motion is achieved through the addition of RNase H, which selectively hydrolyses the hybridized RNA. The spherical motors can move in a selfavoiding manner, and anisotropic particles, such as dimerized or rod-shaped particles, can travel linearly without a track or external force. We also show that the motors can be used to detect single nucleotide polymorphism by measuring particle displacement using a smartphone camera.

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© 2016 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved

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