Anna-Katharina Pumm, Wouter Engelen, Enzo Kopperger, Jonas Isensee, Matthias Vogt, Viktorija Kozina, Massimo Kube, Maximilian N. Honemann, Eva Bertosin, Martin Langecker, Ramin Golestanian, Friedrich C. Simmel & Hendrik Dietz
Nature 607, 492–498 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-022-04910-y
To impart directionality to the motions of a molecular mechanism, one must overcome the random thermal forces that are ubiquitous on such small scales and in liquid solution at ambient temperature. In equilibrium without energy supply, directional motion cannot be sustained without violating the laws of thermodynamics. Under conditions away from thermodynamic equilibrium, directional motion may be achieved within the framework of Brownian ratchets, which are diffusive mechanisms that have broken inversion symmetry. Ratcheting is thought to underpin the function of many natural biological motors, such as the F1F0-ATPase, and it has been demonstrated experimentally in synthetic microscale systems and also in artificial molecular motors created by organic chemical synthesis. DNA nanotechnology has yielded a variety of nanoscale mechanisms, including pivots, hinges, crank sliders and rotary systems, which can adopt different configurations, for example, triggered by strand-displacement reactions or by changing environmental parameters such as pH, ionic strength, temperature, external fields and by coupling their motions to those of natural motor proteins. This previous work and considering low-Reynolds-number dynamics and inherent stochasticity led us to develop a nanoscale rotary motor built from DNA origami that is driven by ratcheting and whose mechanical capabilities approach those of biological motors such as F1F0-ATPase.