Book of Abstracts: Albany 2011

category image Albany 2011
Conversation 17
June 14-18 2011
©Adenine Press (2010)

A DNA Crystal Designed to Contain Two Molecules per Asymmetric Unit with Fluorescent Dyes

We have reported the X-ray crystal structure of a designed macroscopic self-assembled 3D crystal based on a robust motif (1). That crystal contained a single molecular species, a tensegrity triangle (2), the molecule’s self-assembly into a crystal was programmed through the sticky ends at the end of each DNA double helix. One of the strengths of using the chemical information contained in sticky ends to program self-assembly is that one ought to be able to control the number of species contained within the unit cell. This capability has been demonstrated in very small ( ∼1-10 µm) two-dimensional crystals (3), but macroscopic 3D crystals provide the most interesting case. Here, we describe the self-assembly of a DNA crystal that contains two tensegrity triangle molecules per asymmetric unit. We have used X-ray crystallography to determine its crystal structure. In addition, we have demonstrated control over the colors of the crystals by attaching either Cy3 dye (pink) or Cy5 dye (blue-green) to the components of the crystal, yielding crystals of corresponding colors. By doing those, We demonstrate that we could use more than one component to self-assemble DNA crystal, put the covalently bonded foreign molecules into the DNA crystal while not affecting its self-assembly and grow the DNA crystal in the less strain condition such as low salt concentration and room temperature.

This work is supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, the National Science Foundation, the Army Research Office and the Office of Naval Research.


  1. J. Zheng, J. J. Birktoft, Y. Chen, T. Wang, R. Sha, P. E. Constantinou, S. L. Ginell, C. Mao, N. C. Seeman, Nature 461, 74– 77 (2009).
  2. D. Liu, W. Wang, Z. Deng, R Walulu, C. Mao, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 126, 2324–2325 (2004).
  3. E. Winfree, F. Liu, L. A. Wenzler, N. C. Seeman, Nature 394, 539−544 (1998).

Tong Wang1
Ruojie Sha1
Jens J. Birktoft1
Jianping Zheng1
Chengde Mao2
Nadrian C. Seeman1

1 Department of Chemistry
New York University
New York, NY 10003, USA
2 Department of Chemistry
Purdue University
West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA

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