Self-assembly of nucleic acids, silk and hybrid materials thereof

J Phys Condens Matter. 2014 Dec 17;26(50):503102. doi: 10.1088/0953-8984/26/50/503102.


Top-down approaches based on etching techniques have almost reached their limits in terms of dimension. Therefore, novel assembly strategies and types of nanomaterials are required to allow technological advances. Self-assembly processes independent of external energy sources and unlimited in dimensional scaling have become a very promising approach. Here,we highlight recent developments in self-assembled DNA-polymer, silk-polymer and silk-DNA hybrids as promising materials with biotic and abiotic moieties for constructing complex hierarchical materials in ‘bottom-up’ approaches. DNA block copolymers assemble into nanostructures typically exposing a DNA corona which allows functionalization, labeling and higher levels of organization due to its specific addressable recognition properties. In contrast, self-assembly of natural silk proteins as well as their recombinant variants yields mechanically stable β-sheet rich nanostructures. The combination of silk with abiotic polymers gains hybrid materials with new functionalities. Together, the precision of DNA hybridization and robustness of silk fibrillar structures combine in novel conjugates enable processing of higher-order structures with nanoscale architecture and programmable functions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biopolymers / chemistry
  • DNA / chemistry
  • Micelles
  • Microscopy, Atomic Force
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Conformation
  • Nanostructures / chemistry
  • Nanostructures / ultrastructure
  • Nanotechnology
  • Nucleic Acids / chemistry*
  • Nucleic Acids / ultrastructure
  • Silk / chemistry*
  • Silk / ultrastructure


  • Biopolymers
  • Micelles
  • Nucleic Acids
  • Silk
  • DNA