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Nucleic Acid Classification

Nucleic acids; structure, function and terms used to discuss them.

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DNA Switch

DNA Switch

Credit: Caroline Davis2010
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/53416677@N08/4972850923/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Do you recognize this model? It represents a DNA molecule. DNA is the molecule that carries genetic information in virtually all living cells. It can also act as a switch.

The Back Story

  • Scientists have figured out a way to turn DNA inside cells into a biological transistor. A transistor is an electronic device that acts like a switch, turning electricity on or off.
  • Credit: Windell Oskay
    Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/oskay/275142789/
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    Biological transistors can be much smaller than regular transistors [Figure2]


  • A biological transistor also acts like a switch. But it turns something other than electricity on or off. Watch this short video to learn more about it: 


Explore More

Read about the DNA switch at the link below. Then answer the questions that follow.

  1. Electronic transistors regulate the flow of electrons along metal wires. In a computer, this determines how calculations are processed. What does a DNA transistor regulate?
  2. What is a possible real-world application of DNA switches?
  3. The scientists are also trying to create the biological equivalent of the Internet. What would this require?

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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Caroline Davis2010; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/53416677@N08/4972850923/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Windell Oskay; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/oskay/275142789/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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