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ACS Nano. 2013 May 28;7(5):3953-61. doi: 10.1021/nn305787m. Epub 2013 Apr 29.

Backbone-branched DNA building blocks for facile angular control in nanostructures.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry and Center for Nucleic Acids Science and Technology, Carnegie Mellon University, 4400 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213, United States.


Nanotechnology based on the highly specific pairing of nucleobases in DNA has been used to generate a wide variety of well-defined two- and three-dimensional assemblies, both static and dynamic. However, control over the junction angles to achieve them has been limited. To achieve higher order assemblies, the strands of the DNA duplex are typically made to deviate at junctions with configurations based on crossovers or non-DNA moieties. Such strand crossovers tend to be intrinsically unstructured with the overall structural rigidity determined by the architecture of the nanoassembly, rather than the junction itself. Specific approaches to define nanoassembly junction angles are based either on the cooperative twist- and strain-promoted tuning of DNA persistence length leading to bent DNA rods for fairly large nano-objects, or de novo synthesis of individual junction inserts that are typically non-DNA and based on small organic molecules or metal-coordinating ligand moieties. Here, we describe a general strategy for direct control of junction angles in DNA nanostructures that are completely tunable about the DNA helix. This approach is used to define angular vertices through readily accessible backbone-branched DNAs (bbDNAs). We demonstrate how such bbDNAs can be used as a new building block in DNA nanoconstruction to obtain well-defined nanostructures. Angular control through readily accessible bbDNA building block provides a general and versatile approach for incorporating well-defined junctions in nanoconstructs and expands the toolkit toward achieving strain free, highly size- and shape-tunable DNA based architectures.

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