An Investigation of Mechanical Properties of DNA Origami Nanostructures

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The Ohio State University

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Structural DNA nanotechnology is a rapidly growing field with a wide array of potential applications, such as solving basic problems in structural biology and biophysics, designing nanoscale engineering tools, enabling targeted drug delivery, and more broadly, creating self-assembling biological nanomachines and nanomaterials. Scaffolded DNA origami is a recently developed method of designing 3D nanoscale structures from DNA. With this approach, structures on the order of 100 nm can be designed with CAD-like software and self-assembled in solution. Previous research has proven the ability to create novel nanoscale structures via DNA origami, but there are several barriers to more widespread application of the technology to new areas. In order to build a structure (like a gear) or more complicated devices for specific applications, the mechanical properties of the construction material must be known. The theoretical method to model nanoscale mechanics treats DNA double helices as solid cylinders that are rigidly attached for their entire length. This research assesses this assumption, attempting to quantify how well the theoretical model predicts experimental mechanics. To examine the effect of cross section on persistence length, filaments with three cross sections (6-, 12-, and 18-helices) were designed, fabricated, and analyzed. The mean persistence length of the 6- and 18-helix filaments was 1,345 nm and 7,660 nm as compared to the theoretical values of 2,700 nm and 23,400 nm, respectively. The results of the 12-helix filaments were inconclusive. The experimental persistence length was found to lie near the middle of the range from the assumption that none of the helices were rigidly attached at any point (low end) to the assumption that the helices are all rigidly attached for the entire length (high end).



DNA, DNA origami, nanoscale mechanics, persistence length, DNA nanotechnology