Research team from the University of Washington has developed a nanoscale sensor to read the DNA sequencing electronically. This rapid method may offer cost-effective medicine for individuals and may reveal predispositions for addiction, diabetes and cancer.
Earlier, the research team had developed a nanopore using the porin A from Mycobacterium smegmatis. The pore size of the nanopore was 1 nm, which is sufficient to pass a single DNA strand. The nanopore was kept on a membrane enclosed with potassium-chloride solution, to act as a reader and a little voltage was employed on the nanopore to generate current. When the nucleotides pass through the nanopore, unique signatures are created for each nucleotide, which includes adenine, guanine, thymine and cytosine.
A viral replicative enzyme, which acted as a molecular motor, was attached to the nanopore reader. The motor helps in pulling the DNA strand into the reader. The motor was already used by scientists from the University of California located at Santa Cruz, but they utilized another pore that did not differentiate the types of nucleotide.
According to Gundlach, the corresponding author of the paper, the method was used on six different DNA strands and all produced successful results. The results correlated with the already known DNA sequences present on the analyzed strands and were about 42 to 53 nucleotides in length, which had readable regions. He added that the method can also be used to identify epigenetic DNA modifications, which cause different disease conditions including cancer.
The paper was published in the journal, Nature Biotechnology.