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SJTU Proposed and Made Progress in Meta-DNA Self-Assembly Concept

September 18, 2020      Author:

Recently, CAS Academician Fan Chunhai’s team from School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, SJTU, developed a general strategy of meta-DNA in cooperation with the team led by Professor Hao Yan from Arizona State University. This meta-DNA could construct a series of diverse and complex DNA architectures on a submicrometre-to-micrometre scale through self-assembly. This research titled “Meta-DNA structures” is published in Nature Chemistry https://www.nature.com/articles/s41557-020-0539-8.

The meta-DNA strategy they proposed provides a brand-new idea for accurately constructing DNA structures at micron scale and macro scale, which will help to improve improving the possibility of the precise construction of DNA nanotechnology from nano scale to micron scale and higher. This will further help researchers to design more complex DNA circuits, DNA molecular machines and DNA nano devices.


DNA origami has emerged as a highly programmable method to construct customized objects and functional devices in the 10–100nm scale. Scaling up the size of the DNA origami would enable many potential applications, which include metamaterial construction and surface-based biophysical assays. Here we demonstrate that a six-helix bundle DNA origami nanostructure in the submicrometre scale (meta-DNA) could be used as a magnified analogue of single-stranded DNA, and that two meta-DNAs that contain complementary ‘meta-base pairs’ can form double helices with programmed handedness and helical pitches. By mimicking the molecular behaviours of DNA strands and their assembly strategies, we used meta-DNA building blocks to form diverse and complex structures on the micrometre scale. Using meta-DNA building blocks, we constructed a series of DNA architectures on a submicrometre-to-micrometre scale, which include meta-multi-arm junctions, three-dimensional (3D) polyhedrons, and various 2D/3D lattices. We also demonstrated a hierarchical strand-displacement reaction on meta-DNA to transfer the dynamic features of DNA into the meta-DNA. This meta-DNA self-assembly concept may transform the microscopic world of structural DNA nanotechnology.