Photo Slideshow

Three-Dimensional Structures Self-Assembled from DNA Bricks

In this slideshow by Y. Ke et al., the researchers demonstrate the creation of nanostructures from DNA using tiles to build up three-dimensional objects. These types of nanostructures may find applications in biomedicine or nanoelectronics. Y. Ke et al. Science 338, 1177-1183 (2012)

Nanoscale DNA structures self-assembled from DNA bricks. Each brick is a short sythetic single-stranded DNA molecule.
A floppy single-stranded DNA molecule adopts a "U" shape in an assembled structure.
Each strand has four binding domains. We can design each pair of strands to form a 90° angle. The strands and interactions can be depicted by a simple Lego model. Thus, we named these strands "DNA bricks."
Now a large number of DNA bricks can produce three-dimensional (3D) shapes, such as a cuboid that is depicted by a DNA brick model and a DNA strand model. Each brick carries a unique sequence that directs it to fit only into its predesigned position.
The cuboid is dissected into layers of DNA bricks to show the connections.
Just like Legos, one set of DNA bricks can assemble into many shapes, using subsets of DNA bricks.
We made a large cuboid that was assembled from hundreds of DNA bricks, and then used it as a 1000-voxel (each voxel is 2.5 × 2.5 × 2.7 nm) "3D canvas" for constructing complex shapes.
In a computer-aided design process, we used 3D modeling software to design shapes from this 1000-voxel 3D canvas and convert the shapes to DNA sequences.
We designed 100 shapes and ordered the DNA strands. An automated liquid-handling robot selected DNA strands from source plates and pipetted them to the wells of a product plate in a high-throughput manner.
These shapes are about 25 nm in each dimension and can be seen under a transmission electron microscope that uses a beam of electrons to image small objects.
 
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Read the accompanying Report in the 30 November issue of Science.

Read the related Perspective in the 30 November issue of Science.
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