PerspectiveNANOTECHNOLOGY

Changing of the guard

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Science  20 May 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6288, pp. 890-891
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf5154

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Summary

Membrane proteins control access of ions and molecules to a cell's interior, shuttle cargo and information across the cell boundary, and determine the cell's shape. Engineering the function of these proteins is key to the development of vaccines, biofuels, biosensor elements, and research tools. However, the range of accessible architectures is limited, because protein engineering usually involves making relatively modest structural changes to existing protein structures; folding extensively altered polypeptides into defined structures is very challenging. Recent studies have shown that some membrane-protein functions can be mimicked with DNA nanostructures, which are easier to manipulate than their natural templates.