Bioengineers have cobbled together DNA fragments from several organisms to build remote-controlled protein motors that change course and speed on command.
By customizing these proteins, which normally ferry molecules around inside cells, researchers hope to better understand how organisms convert energy from chemical to mechanical. They will also get a better picture of the forces that these motors generate within cells.
"Biology is full of these nanoscale machines that can perform complex tasks," said Stanford bioengineer Zev Bryant, who led the study. "Evolution takes a basic design and makes motors that are fast and motors that are slow and motors that move long distances. We’ve tried to build diverse motors and really challenge our understanding by pushing ourselves outside of what’s already been done by evolution."