Dynamic DNA material with emergent locomotion behavior powered by artificial metabolism

Metabolism is a key process that makes life alive—the combination of anabolism and catabolism sustains life by a continuous flux of matter and energy. In other words, the materials comprising life are synthesized, assembled, dissipated, and decomposed autonomously in a controlled, hierarchical manner using biological processes. Although some biological approaches for creating dynamic materials have been reported, the construction of such materials by mimicking metabolism from scratch based on bioengineering has not yet been achieved. Various chemical approaches, especially dissipative assemblies, allow the construction of dynamic materials in a synthetic fashion, analogous to part of metabolism. Inspired by these approaches, here, we report a bottom-up construction of dynamic biomaterials powered by artificial metabolism, representing a combination of irreversible biosynthesis and dissipative assembly processes. An emergent locomotion behavior resembling a slime mold was programmed with this material by using an abstract design model similar to mechanical systems. Dynamic properties, such as autonomous pattern generation and continuous polarized regeneration, enabled locomotion along the designated tracks against a constant flow. Furthermore, an emergent racing behavior of two locomotive bodies was achieved by expanding the program. Other applications, including pathogen detection and hybrid nanomaterials, illustrated further potential use of this material. Dynamic biomaterials powered by artificial metabolism could provide a previously unexplored route to realize “artificial” biological systems with regenerating and self-sustaining characteristics.

Source: Sciencemag.org – Science Robotics Latest Content

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