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Nat Chem. 2010 Sep;2(9):772-9. doi: 10.1038/nchem.733. Epub 2010 Jul 18.

A polyhedron made of tRNAs.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California at Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, California 93106-9510, USA.


Supramolecular assembly is a powerful strategy used by nature to build nanoscale architectures with predefined sizes and shapes. With synthetic systems, however, numerous challenges remain to be solved before precise control over the synthesis, folding and assembly of rationally designed three-dimensional nano-objects made of RNA can be achieved. Here, using the transfer RNA molecule as a structural building block, we report the design, efficient synthesis and structural characterization of stable, modular three-dimensional particles adopting the polyhedral geometry of a non-uniform square antiprism. The spatial control within the final architecture allows the precise positioning and encapsulation of proteins. This work demonstrates that a remarkable degree of structural control can be achieved with RNA structural motifs for the construction of thermostable three-dimensional nano-architectures that do not rely on helix bundles or tensegrity. RNA three-dimensional particles could potentially be used as carriers or scaffolds in nanomedicine and synthetic biology.

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