Amphiphilic-DNA Platform for the Design of Crystalline Frameworks with Programmable Structure and Functionality

publication · 1 month ago
by Ryan A. Brady, Nicholas J. Brooks, Vito Fodera, Pietro Cicuta, Lorenzo Di Michele (University of Cambridge, Imperial College London)

The reliable preparation of functional, ordered, nanostructured frameworks would be a game changer for many emerging technologies, from energy storage to nanomedicine. Underpinned by the excellent molecular recognition of nucleic acids, along with their facile synthesis and breadth of available functionalizations, DNA nanotechnology is widely acknowledged as a prime route for the rational design of nanostructured materials. Yet, the preparation of crystalline DNA frameworks with programmable structure and functionality remains a challenge. Here we demonstrate the potential of simple amphiphilic DNA motifs, dubbed “C-stars”, as a versatile platform for the design of programmable DNA crystals. In contrast to all-DNA materials, in which structure depends on the precise molecular details of individual building blocks, the self-assembly of C-stars is controlled uniquely by their topology and symmetry. Exploiting this robust self-assembly principle, we design a range of topologically identical, but structurally and chemically distinct C-stars that following a one-pot reaction self-assemble into highly porous, functional, crystalline frameworks. Simple design variations allow us to fine-tune the lattice parameter and thus control the partitioning of macromolecules within the frameworks, embed responsive motifs that can induce isothermal disassembly, and include chemical moieties to capture target proteins specifically and reversibly.

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