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Rewriting Life

Nanopore Sequencing to Identify DNA Bases

A British company has demonstrated an important step for a new sequencing technique.

Slideshow: A DNA base (red) passes through a protein tunnel lined with a sugar (blue and green bubbles). The sugar slows down the DNA as it moves through the pore, allowing time for the base to be identified.
Slideshow: This artist’s illustration shows the technique that Oxford Nanopore hopes to use to sequence complete strands of DNA. In the first step, a strand moves through an enzyme attached to a protein pore embedded in a lipid membrane.
Slideshow: Next, the enzyme cleaves the DNA bases off one by one. As each base is released, it passes through a protein pore, where it is identified by its effect on the flow of electrical current through the pore.
Slideshow: The company has demonstrated all the components of this system and shown that it can identify DNA bases. It has not yet integrated the nanopore with the enzyme, however.

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