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Folding and cutting DNA into reconfigurable topological nanostructures


Topology is the mathematical study of the spatial properties that are preserved through the deformation, twisting and stretching of objects. Topological architectures are common in nature and can be seen, for example, in DNA molecules that condense and relax during cellular events1. Synthetic topological nanostructures, such as catenanes and rotaxanes, have been engineered using supramolecular chemistry, but the fabrication of complex and reconfigurable structures remains challenging2. Here, we show that DNA origami3 can be used to assemble a Möbius strip, a topological ribbon-like structure that has only one side4,5,6. In addition, we show that the DNA Möbius strip can be reconfigured through strand displacement7 to create topological objects such as supercoiled ring and catenane structures. This DNA fold-and-cut strategy, analogous to Japanese kirigami8, may be used to create and reconfigure programmable topological structures that are unprecedented in molecular engineering.

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Figure 1: Design of a Möbius DNA strip.
Figure 2: Visualization of the Möbius DNA strips with AFM and TEM imaging.
Figure 3: DNA kirigami to achieve reconfigurable topologies from the Möbius strip.


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The authors acknowledge financial support from the Office of Naval Research, Army Research Office, National Science Foundation, National Institute of Health and Department of Energy to H.Y. and Y.L., and the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship to H.Y. Y.L. and H.Y. were also supported as part of the Center for Bio-Inspired Solar Fuel Production, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the US Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences under award no. DE-SC0001016. The authors acknowledge use of the EM facility in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University. The authors also thank C. Flores for help in proofreading the manuscript.

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H.Y. and D.H. conceived and designed the experiment. D.H., S.P. and Y.L. performed the experiments. D.H., Y.L., S.P. and H.Y. analysed the data. All authors discussed the results. H.Y., Y.L. and D.H. wrote the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Yan Liu or Hao Yan.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Han, D., Pal, S., Liu, Y. et al. Folding and cutting DNA into reconfigurable topological nanostructures. Nature Nanotech 5, 712–717 (2010).

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