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A Synthetic Molecular Machine Capable of Complex Task Performance: Processive Sequence-Selective Synthesis

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Molecular translation machines

A machine that transports, at the nano level, the information inscribed on a molecular tape or thread. Is this science fiction or science fact?

Industrial Technologies

One area of great interest in nanotechnology is the development of what are known as 'nano-machines'. These machines are made up of any number of molecular components that produce quasi-mechanical movements (i.e. outputs) in response to specific stimuli (i.e. inputs). There are two main types of molecular machines: synthetic machines and the more complex biological machines. Synthetic machines are divided into two general groups – switches and motors. The first affect the state of a system and may appear to undergo translational motion, while the second influence the trajectory. The EU-funded project RIBOSOME MM aimed to demonstrate the successful operation of one of the first synthetic molecular machines capable of performing a complex task at the molecular level. Specifically, to transport the information inscribed on a molecular tape or thread. Project partners worked to mimic ‘translation’, the process through which protein is synthesised on the messenger RNA (mRNA) template. The project managed to establish a reliable synthesis for each one of the building blocks of the rotaxane-based molecular machine. RIBOSOME MM also completed a number of model studies focusing on the operation of the molecular machine in simple test systems involving one amino acid residue.


Nanotechnology, nano-machine, synthetic molecular machine, rotaxane

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