Dr. Alasdair Clark has been awarded a BBSRC Grant to explore DNA-directed construction of three-dimensional photosynthetic assemblies. The £615,000 award will be held in conjunction with Prof. Richard Cordell (Institue of Cell and Systems Biology) and will run from October 2016 for 3 years.
The research programme seeks to establish a working platform that will assemble photosynthetic proteins within DNA nanostructures. A hallmark of our approach is to use engineered photosynthetic proteins that selectively bind to target DNA sequences - both single-stranded and double-stranded - within a DNA nanostructure. This sequence selectivity directs the assembly of these proteins within a DNA matrix, thus providing spatial and positional control. Additional positional control of the overall nanostructure will then be imparted by directing the immobilization of the DNA-photosynthetic complexes by nanolithography. This bio-inspired platform methodology merges the principles of "bottom up" DNA nanotechnology with "top down" nanolithography and would provide the means to control, for the first time, the location of each photosynthetic protein module, inter-module distance and their relative orientation in both two- (2D) and three-dimensions (3D) along surfaces. Furthermore, this new design lexicon, if successful, will provide a framework to correlate how these parameters influence overall light harvesting efficiency.