Information-based autonomous reconfiguration in systems of interacting DNA nanostructures.
ABSTRACT: The dynamic interactions between complex molecular structures underlie a wide range of sophisticated behaviors in biological systems. In building artificial molecular machines out of DNA, an outstanding challenge is to develop mechanisms that can control the kinetics of interacting DNA nanostructures and that can compose the interactions together to carry out system-level functions. Here we show a mechanism of DNA tile displacement that follows the principles of toehold binding and branch migration similar to DNA strand displacement, but occurs at a larger scale between interacting DNA origami structures. Utilizing this mechanism, we show controlled reaction kinetics over five orders of magnitude and programmed cascades of reactions in multi-structure systems. Furthermore, we demonstrate the generality of tile displacement for occurring at any location in an array in any order, illustrated as a tic-tac-toe game. Our results suggest that tile displacement is a simple-yet-powerful mechanism that opens up the possibility for complex structural components in artificial molecular machines to undergo information-based reconfiguration in response to their environments.
Project description:Nucleic acids have been used to create diverse synthetic structural and dynamic systems. Toehold-mediated strand displacement has enabled the construction of sophisticated circuits, motors, and molecular computers. Yet it remains challenging to demonstrate complex structural reconfiguration in which a structure changes from a starting shape to another arbitrarily prescribed shape. To address this challenge, we have developed a general structural-reconfiguration method that utilizes the modularly interconnected architecture of single-stranded DNA tile and brick structures. The removal of one component strand reveals a newly exposed toehold on a neighboring strand, thus enabling us to remove regions of connected component strands without the need to modify the strands with predesigned external toeholds. By using this method, we reconfigured a two-dimensional rectangular DNA canvas into diverse prescribed shapes. We also used this method to reconfigure a three-dimensional DNA cuboid.
Project description:DNA is increasingly being used as an ideal material for the construction of nanoscale structures, circuits, and machines. Toehold-mediated DNA strand displacement reactions play a very important role in these enzyme-free constructions. In this study, the concept of metallo-toehold was utilized to further develop a mechanism for strand displacement driven by Ag+ ions, in which the intercalation of cytosine-cytosine mismatched base pairs on the toeholds provides additional control by varying of the concentration of Ag+ ions. The characteristics of displacement reaction in response to different concentration of Ag+ ions are investigated by fluorescence spectral and non-denaturing polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. The reaction can successfully occur when the concentration of Ag+ ions is suitabe; excess Ag+ ions block the reaction. Furthermore, the displacement reaction can be tuned and controlled most efficiently under the condition of two C:C mismatched base pairs placed on the six-nt toehold. Based on our research, a mechanism was developed to construct Boolean logic gate AND and OR by employing strand displacement reaction as a tool, Ag+ and Hg2+ as input.
Project description:Surface-immobilization of molecules can have a profound influence on their structure, function and dynamics. Toehold-mediated strand displacement is often used in solution to drive synthetic nanomachines made from DNA, but the effects of surface-immobilization on the mechanism and kinetics of this reaction have not yet been fully elucidated. Here we show that the kinetics of strand displacement in surface-immobilized nanomachines are significantly different to those of the solution phase reaction, and we attribute this to the effects of intermolecular interactions within the DNA layer. We demonstrate that the dynamics of strand displacement can be manipulated by changing strand length, concentration and G/C content. By inserting mismatched bases it is also possible to tune the rates of the constituent displacement processes (toehold-binding and branch migration) independently, and information can be encoded in the time-dependence of the overall reaction. Our findings will facilitate the rational design of surface-immobilized dynamic DNA nanomachines, including computing devices and track-based motors.
Project description:Current work in tuning DNA kinetics has focused on changing toehold lengths and DNA concentrations. However, kinetics can also be improved by enhancing the completion probability of the strand displacement process. Here, we execute this strategy by creating a toehold DNA motor device with the inclusion of a synthetic nucleotide, inosine, at selected sites. Furthermore, we found that the energetic bias can be tuned such that the device can stay in a stable partially displaced state. This work demonstrates the utility of energetic biases to change DNA strand displacement kinetics and introduces a complementary strategy to the existing designs.
Project description:Dynamic DNA nanotechnology often uses toehold-mediated strand displacement for controlling reaction kinetics. Although the dependence of strand displacement kinetics on toehold length has been experimentally characterized and phenomenologically modeled, detailed biophysical understanding has remained elusive. Here, we study strand displacement at multiple levels of detail, using an intuitive model of a random walk on a 1D energy landscape, a secondary structure kinetics model with single base-pair steps and a coarse-grained molecular model that incorporates 3D geometric and steric effects. Further, we experimentally investigate the thermodynamics of three-way branch migration. Two factors explain the dependence of strand displacement kinetics on toehold length: (i) the physical process by which a single step of branch migration occurs is significantly slower than the fraying of a single base pair and (ii) initiating branch migration incurs a thermodynamic penalty, not captured by state-of-the-art nearest neighbor models of DNA, due to the additional overhang it engenders at the junction. Our findings are consistent with previously measured or inferred rates for hybridization, fraying and branch migration, and they provide a biophysical explanation of strand displacement kinetics. Our work paves the way for accurate modeling of strand displacement cascades, which would facilitate the simulation and construction of more complex molecular systems.
Project description:We study the thermodynamics and kinetics of an RNA toehold-mediated strand displacement reaction with a recently developed coarse-grained model of RNA. Strand displacement, during which a single strand displaces a different strand previously bound to a complementary substrate strand, is an essential mechanism in active nucleic acid nanotechnology and has also been hypothesized to occur in vivo. We study the rate of displacement reactions as a function of the length of the toehold and temperature and make two experimentally testable predictions: that the displacement is faster if the toehold is placed at the 5' end of the substrate; and that the displacement slows down with increasing temperature for longer toeholds.
Project description:The catalytic DNA circuits play a critical role in engineered biological systems and molecular information processing. Actually, some of the natural or synthetic DNA circuits were triggered by covalent modifications, where conformational changes were induced to facilitate complex DNA engineering functions and signal transmissions. However, most of the reported artificial catalytic DNA circuits were regulated by the toehold-mediated reaction. Therefore, it is significant to propose a strategy to regulate the catalytic DNA circuit not only by the toehold-mediated mechanism, but also by involving the conformational changes induced by the covalent modification. In this study, we developed the catalytic DNA logic circuits regulated by DNAzyme. Here, a regulation strategy based on the covalent modification was proposed to control the DNA circuit, combing two reaction mechanisms: DNAzyme digestion and entropy-driven strand displacement. The DNAzyme and DNA catalyst can participate into the reactions alternatively, thus realizing the cascading catalytic circuits. Using the DNAzyme regulation, a series of logic gates (YES, OR and AND) were constructed. In addition, a two-layer cascading circuit and a feedback self-catalysis circuit were also established. The proposed DNAzyme-regulated strategy shows great potentials as a reliable and feasible method for constructing more complex catalytic DNA circuits.
Project description:Strand displacement reactions are widely used in DNA nanotechnology as a building block for engineering molecular computers and machines. Here, we demonstrate that strand displacement-based probes can be triggered by RNA expressed in mammalian cells, thus taking a step toward adapting the DNA nanotechnology toolbox to a cellular environment. We systematically compare different probe architectures in order to identify a design that works robustly in living cells. Our optimized strand displacement probe combines chemically modified nucleic acids that enhance stability to degradation by cellular nucleases with structural elements that improve probe retention in the cytoplasm. We visualize probe binding to individual mRNA carrying 96 repeats of a target sequence in the 3'UTR. We find that RNA counts based on live cell imaging using a strand displacement probe are comparable to counts from independent measurement based on fluorescence in situ hybridization experiments. We used probes with scrambled toeholds and scrambled binding domains to demonstrate that target recognition indeed occurs through toehold-mediated strand displacement. Our results demonstrate that strand displacement probes can work reliably in mammalian cells and lay the groundwork for future applications of such probes for live-cell imaging and molecular computing.
Project description:DNA strand displacement is a key reaction in DNA homologous recombination and DNA mismatch repair and is also heavily utilized in DNA-based computation and locomotion. Despite its ubiquity in science and engineering, sequence-dependent effects of displacement kinetics have not been extensively characterized. Here, we measured toehold-mediated strand displacement kinetics using single-molecule fluorescence in the presence of a single basepair mismatch. The apparent displacement rate varied significantly when the mismatch was introduced in the invading DNA strand. The rate generally decreased as the mismatch in the invader was encountered earlier in displacement. Our data indicate that a single base pair mismatch in the invader stalls branch migration and displacement occurs via direct dissociation of the destabilized incumbent strand from the substrate strand. We combined both branch migration and direct dissociation into a model, which we term the concurrent displacement model, and used the first passage time approach to quantitatively explain the salient features of the observed relationship. We also introduce the concept of splitting probabilities to justify that the concurrent model can be simplified into a three-step sequential model in the presence of an invader mismatch. We expect our model to become a powerful tool to design DNA-based reaction schemes with broad functionality.
Project description:Toehold-mediated strand displacement has proven extremely powerful in programming enzyme-free DNA circuits and DNA nanomachines. To achieve multistep, autonomous, and complex behaviors, toeholds must be initially inactivated by hybridizing to inhibitor strands or domains and then relieved from inactivation in a programmed, timed manner. Although powerful and reasonably robust, this strategy has several drawbacks that limit the architecture of DNA circuits. For example, the combination between toeholds and branch migration (BM) domains is 'hard wired' during DNA synthesis thus cannot be created or changed during the execution of DNA circuits. To solve this problem, I propose a strategy called 'associative toehold activation', where the toeholds and BM domains are connected via hybridization of auxiliary domains during the execution of DNA circuits. Bulged thymidines that stabilize DNA three-way junctions substantially accelerate strand displacement reactions in this scheme, allowing fast strand displacement initiated by reversible toehold binding. To demonstrate the versatility of the scheme, I show (1) run-time combination of toeholds and BM domains, (2) run-time recombination of toeholds and BM domains, which results in a novel operation 'toehold switching', and (3) design of a simple conformational self-replicator.