Living systems have inspired numerous advances in materials, including self-healing polymer composites, self-assembled nanoparticles, and stimuli-responsive polymers. The development of nanotechnology has led to increasing demand for precise control in material properties on the nanoscale. DNA origami technique is a bottom-up technique to “fold” DNA into the desired configuration by designing DNA base-pairing sequences. DNA origami is usually employed as a static template to arrange the position of molecules, since most of them are built from a single scaffold and several staples, forming DNA double helices. DNA origami capable of dynamic conformational changes often consists of multiple rigid subunits linked by flexible joints. To achieve constrained linear motion, the concept of mechanically interlocked structures was applied in DNA origami.


Fig. 1 Synthesis pathway and the function of NanoMuscle. Each color band represents 10 bp functional staples. Bands of the same color are complementary to each other.


Fig. 2 Assembled DNA origami NanoMuscle at each stage. (a) Complete NanoMuscle (b) AntiFuel NanoMuscle: After AntiFuel staples are added, NanoMuscle contracted. (c) Fuel NanoMuscle: After Fuel staples are added, NanoMuscle extended. (d) Fuel-to-AntiFuel NanoMuscle: After AntiFuel staples are added to extended (Fuel) NanoMuscle, NanoMuscle contracted again. (e) The ratio of each length of NanoMuscle in the four states mentioned in (a) to (d).

Here, we present a bioinspired molecular-muscle-like structure with mechanically interlocked DNA origami, named NanoMuscle. NanoMuscle consists of two monomers assembled as doubly threaded rotaxanes. With the delicately designed thermodynamic bistable state, NanoMuscle achieves one-dimensional contraction and extension, which is not seen in previous DNA origami designs. We further confirmed NanoMuscle's reversible conformational change with gel electrophoresis and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). We expect that NanoMuscle could be further assembled into complex structures to achieve delicate motions in DNA origami machinery.

Contact: Prof. Hong-Ren Jiang
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