Engineering DNA 2D and 3D Crystals by Geometry, Not Sequence

Cuizheng Zhang, Purdue University


This chapter introduces geometry as a means to program the tile-based DNA self-assembly in two dimensions. This strategy complements the sequence-focused programmable assembly. DNA crystal assembly critically relies on intermotif, sticky-end cohesion, which requires complementarity not only in sequence but also in geometry. For DNA motifs to assemble into 2D crystals, they must be associated with each other in the proper geometry and orientation to ensure that geometric hindrance does not prevent sticky ends from associating. For DNA motifs with exactly the same pair of sticky-end sequences, by adjusting the length (thus, helical twisting phase) of the motif branches, it is possible to program the assembly of these distinct motifs to either mix with one another, to self-sort and consequently separate from one another, or to be alternatingly arranged. We demonstrate the ability to program homogeneous crystals, DNA “alloy” crystals, and definable grain boundaries through self-assembly. We believe that the integration of this strategy and conventional sequence-focused assembly strategy could further expand the programming versatility of DNA self-assembly.




Mao, Purdue University.

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