A New Meta-DNA Strategy That Allows Sub-Micrometer to Micrometer Sized DNA Structures

Researchers Announce Creation of New Type of M-DNA Structures

A team of researchers from Arizona State University and Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) has announced the creation of a new type of meta-DNA structures that can totally transform the microscopic world of structural DNA nanotechnology.

The research team was led by Prof. Hao Yan, ASU’s Milton Glick Professor in the School of Molecular Sciences and their work recently appeared in the journal Nature Chemistry.

Before getting into the details, you need to know about DNA origami.

DNA Origami
DNA origami is the nanoscale folding of DNA to create non-arbitrary two- and three-dimensional shapes at the nanoscale with the help of hundreds of short DNA staple strands. The predictable nature of the interactions between complementary base pairs makes DNA a useful construction material, through the design of its base sequences.

According to IDT, DNA origami has been used for the construction of nanorobots and other structures for studies of fluorescence, enzyme-substrate interactions, molecular motor actions, various light, and other energy studies, and for drug delivery.

The Problem
As mentioned above, DNA origami is used for a lot of important things. But there is a problem with it, it is challenging to assemble larger (micron to millimeter) sized DNA architectures which up until recently has limited the use of DNA origami.

The current research focuses on this problem and tried to solve it.

“In this current research we developed a versatile “meta-DNA” (M-DNA) strategy that allowed various sub-micrometer to micrometer-sized DNA structures to self-assemble in a manner similar to how simple short DNA strands self-assemble at the nanoscale level,” said Yan.

The group demonstrated that a 6-helix bundle DNA origami nanostructure in the sub-micrometer scale (meta-DNA) could be used as a magnified analogue of single-stranded DNA (ssDNA), and that two meta-DNAs containing complementary “meta-base pairs” could form double helices with programmed handedness and helical pitches.

Using meta-DNA building blocks they have constructed a series of sub-micrometer to micrometer scale DNA architectures, including meta-multi-arm junctions, 3D polyhedrons, and various 2D/3D lattices. They also demonstrated a hierarchical strand-displacement reaction on meta-DNA to transfer the dynamic features of DNA to the meta-DNA.

With the help of Assistant Professor Petr Šulc, of the School of Molecular Sciences, the team used a coarse-grained computational model of the DNA to simulate the double-stranded M-DNA structure and to understand the different yields of left-handed and right-handed structures that were obtained.

This research is claimed to make the creation of dynamic micron-scale DNA structures, that are reconfigurable upon stimulation, significantly more feasible.

The team of researchers believes that the introduction of this M-DNA strategy will transform the world of DNA nanotechnology from the nanometer to the microscopic scale. It will create a range of complex static and dynamic structures in the sub-micrometer and micron-scale that will enable many new applications.

Journal Reference:
Guangbao Yao, Fei Zhang, Fei Wang, Tianhuan Peng, Hao Liu, Erik Poppleton, Petr Šulc, Shuoxing Jiang, Lan Liu, Chen Gong, Xinxin Jing, Xiaoguo Liu, Lihua Wang, Yan Liu, Chunhai Fan, Hao Yan. Meta-DNA structures. Nature Chemistry, 2020; DOI: 10.1038/s41557-020-0539-8

Press Release: Arizona State University

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