Introducing Bacteria and Synthetic Biomolecules along Engineered DNA Fibers

Small. 2021 May 7;e2100136. doi: 10.1002/smll.202100136. Online ahead of print.


Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) nanotechnology enables user-defined structures to be built with unrivalled control. The approach is currently restricted across the nanoscale, yet the ability to generate macroscopic DNA structures has enormous potential with applications spanning material, physical, and biological science. To address this need, I employed DNA nanotechnology and developed a new macromolecular nanoarchitectonic assembly method to produce DNA fibers with customizable properties. The process involves coalescing DNA nanotubes under high salt conditions to yield filament superstructures. Using this strategy, fibers over 100 microns long, with stiffnesses 10 times greater than cytoskeletal actin filaments can be fabricated. The DNA framework enables fibers to be functionalized with advanced synthetic molecules, including, aptamers, origami, nanoparticles, and vesicles. In addition, the fibers can act as bacterial extracellular scaffolds and adhere Escherichia coli cells in a controllable fashion. These results showcase the opportunities offered from DNA nanotechnology across the macroscopic scale. The new biophysical approach should find widespread use, from the generation of hybrid-fabric materials, smart analytical devices in biomedicine, and platforms to study cell-cell interactions.

Keywords: DNA nanotechnology; condensation; fibers; macromolecular nanoarchitectonics; nanotubes.