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Reprogramming the assembly of unmodified DNA with a small molecule

Avakyan, Nicole, Greschner, Andrea A., Aldaye, Faisal, Serpell, C hristopher J., Toader, Violeta, Petitjean, Anne, Sleiman, Hanadi F. (2016) Reprogramming the assembly of unmodified DNA with a small molecule. Nature Chemistry, 8 . pp. 368-376. ISSN 1755-4330. E-ISSN 1755-4349. (doi:10.1038/nchem.2451) (KAR id:54395)

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The ability of DNA to store and encode information arises from base pairing of the four-letter nucleobase code to form a double helix. Expanding this DNA ‘alphabet’ by synthetic incorporation of new bases can introduce new functionalities and enable the formation of novel nucleic acid structures. However, reprogramming the self-assembly of existing nucleobases presents an alternative route to expand the structural space and functionality of nucleic acids. Here we report the discovery that a small molecule, cyanuric acid, with three thymine-like faces reprogrammes the assembly of unmodified poly(adenine) (poly(A)) into stable, long and abundant fibres with a unique internal structure. Poly(A) DNA, RNA and peptide nucleic acid all form these assemblies. Our studies are consistent with the association of adenine and cyanuric acid units into a hexameric rosette, which brings together poly(A) triplexes with a subsequent cooperative polymerization. Fundamentally, this study shows that small hydrogen-bonding molecules can be used to induce the assembly of nucleic acids in water, which leads to new structures from inexpensive and readily available materials.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1038/nchem.2451
Uncontrolled keywords: DNA nanostructures; Self-assembly, Functional Materials Group
Subjects: Q Science > QD Chemistry
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Natural Sciences > School of Physical Sciences
Depositing User: Christopher Serpell
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2016 15:56 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 13:33 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Serpell, C hristopher J.:
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