A nanoscale reciprocating rotary mechanism with coordinated mobility control

Eva Bertosin, Christopher M. Maffeo, Thomas Drexler, Maximilian N. Honemann, Aleksei Aksimentiev, Hendrik Dietz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Biological molecular motors transform chemical energy into mechanical work by coupling cyclic catalytic reactions to large-scale structural transitions. Mechanical deformation can be surprisingly efficient in realizing such coupling, as demonstrated by the F1FO ATP synthase. Here, we describe a synthetic molecular mechanism that transforms a rotary motion of an asymmetric camshaft into reciprocating large-scale transitions in a surrounding stator orchestrated by mechanical deformation. We design the mechanism using DNA origami, characterize its structure via cryo-electron microscopy, and examine its dynamic behavior using single-particle fluorescence microscopy and molecular dynamics simulations. While the camshaft can rotate inside the stator by diffusion, the stator’s mechanics makes the camshaft pause at preferred orientations. By changing the stator’s mechanical stiffness, we accelerate or suppress the Brownian rotation, demonstrating an allosteric coupling between the camshaft and the stator. Our mechanism provides a framework for manufacturing artificial nanomachines that function because of coordinated movements of their components.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7138
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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