A single-stranded architecture for cotranscriptional folding of RNA nanostructures

Science. 2014 Aug 15;345(6198):799-804. doi: 10.1126/science.1253920.


Artificial DNA and RNA structures have been used as scaffolds for a variety of nanoscale devices. In comparison to DNA structures, RNA structures have been limited in size, but they also have advantages: RNA can fold during transcription and thus can be genetically encoded and expressed in cells. We introduce an architecture for designing artificial RNA structures that fold from a single strand, in which arrays of antiparallel RNA helices are precisely organized by RNA tertiary motifs and a new type of crossover pattern. We constructed RNA tiles that assemble into hexagonal lattices and demonstrated that lattices can be made by annealing and/or cotranscriptional folding. Tiles can be scaled up to 660 nucleotides in length, reaching a size comparable to that of large natural ribozymes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • DNA / chemistry
  • DNA / genetics
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases / metabolism
  • Nanostructures*
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation*
  • RNA / chemistry*
  • RNA / genetics
  • RNA / ultrastructure*
  • Software
  • Templates, Genetic
  • Transcription, Genetic*
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism


  • Viral Proteins
  • RNA
  • DNA
  • bacteriophage T7 RNA polymerase
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases