Thermodynamics and biological applications of DNA nanostructures

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DNA nanotechnology is one of the most flourishing interdisciplinary research fields. Through the features of programmability and predictability, DNA nanostructures can be designed to self-assemble into a variety of periodic

DNA nanotechnology is one of the most flourishing interdisciplinary research fields. Through the features of programmability and predictability, DNA nanostructures can be designed to self-assemble into a variety of periodic or aperiodic patterns of different shapes and length scales, and more importantly, they can be used as scaffolds for organizing other nanoparticles, proteins and chemical groups. By leveraging these molecules, DNA nanostructures can be used to direct the organization of complex bio-inspired materials that may serve as smart drug delivery systems and in vitro or in vivo bio-molecular computing and diagnostic devices. In this dissertation I describe a systematic study of the thermodynamic properties of complex DNA nanostructures, including 2D and 3D DNA origami, in order to understand their assembly, stability and functionality and inform future design endeavors. It is conceivable that a more thorough understanding of DNA self-assembly can be used to guide the structural design process and optimize the conditions for assembly, manipulation, and functionalization, thus benefiting both upstream design and downstream applications. As a biocompatible nanoscale motif, the successful integration, stabilization and separation of DNA nanostructures from cells/cell lysate suggests its potential to serve as a diagnostic platform at the cellular level. Here, DNA origami was used to capture and identify multiple T cell receptor mRNA species from single cells within a mixed cell population. This demonstrates the potential of DNA nanostructure as an ideal nano scale tool for biological applications.