A new twist on DNA origami

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A team of scientists from Arizona State University and Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) has announced the creation of a new type of meta-DNA structures that will open up the fields of optoelectronics, including information storage and encryption as well as synthetic biology. By Jenny Green.

It is common knowledge that the predictable nature of Watson-Crick base-pairing and the structural features of DNA have allowed DNA to be used as a versatile building block to engineer sophisticated nanoscale structures and devices.

“A milestone in DNA technology was certainly the invention of DNA origami, where a long single-stranded DNA is folded into designated shapes with the help of hundreds of short DNA staple strands,” professor Yan explained. “However it has been challenging to assemble larger (micron to millimeter) sized DNA architectures, which up until recently has limited the use of DNA origami.” The new micron-size structures are on the order of the width of a human hair, which is 1,000 times larger than the original DNA nanostructures.

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

This research was published Sept. 7 in Nature Chemistry. Indeed, the meta-DNA self-assembly concept may totally transform the microscopic world of structural DNA nanotechnology. Super exciting!

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