Designer nanoscale DNA assemblies programmed from the top down

Science. 2016 Jun 24;352(6293):1534. doi: 10.1126/science.aaf4388. Epub 2016 May 26.


Scaffolded DNA origami is a versatile means of synthesizing complex molecular architectures. However, the approach is limited by the need to forward-design specific Watson-Crick base pairing manually for any given target structure. Here, we report a general, top-down strategy to design nearly arbitrary DNA architectures autonomously based only on target shape. Objects are represented as closed surfaces rendered as polyhedral networks of parallel DNA duplexes, which enables complete DNA scaffold routing with a spanning tree algorithm. The asymmetric polymerase chain reaction is applied to produce stable, monodisperse assemblies with custom scaffold length and sequence that are verified structurally in three dimensions to be high fidelity by single-particle cryo-electron microscopy. Their long-term stability in serum and low-salt buffer confirms their utility for biological as well as nonbiological applications.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Base Pairing
  • Cryoelectron Microscopy
  • DNA, Single-Stranded / chemistry*
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods*
  • Nanostructures / chemistry*
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation*


  • DNA, Single-Stranded