Computational design and study of structural and dynamic nucleic acid systems

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DNA and RNA are generally regarded as one of the central molecules in molecular biology. Recent advancements in the field of DNA/RNA nanotechnology witnessed the success of usage of DNA/RNA

DNA and RNA are generally regarded as one of the central molecules in molecular biology. Recent advancements in the field of DNA/RNA nanotechnology witnessed the success of usage of DNA/RNA as programmable molecules to construct nano-objects with predefined shapes and dynamic molecular machines for various functions. From the perspective of structural design with nucleic acid, there are basically two types of assembly method, DNA tile based assembly and DNA origami based assembly, used to construct infinite-sized crystal structures and finite-sized molecular structures. The assembled structure can be used for arrangement of other molecules or nanoparticles with the resolution of nanometers to create new type of materials. The dynamic nucleic acid machine is based on the DNA strand displacement, which allows two nucleic acid strands to hybridize with each other to displace one or more prehybridized strands in the process. Strand displacement reaction has been implemented to construct a variety of dynamic molecular systems, such as molecular computer, oscillators, in vivo devices for gene expression control.

This thesis will focus on the computational design of structural and dynamic nucleic acid systems, particularly for new type of DNA structure design and high precision control of gene expression in vivo. Firstly, a new type of fundamental DNA structural motif, the layered-crossover motif, will be introduced. The layered-crossover allow non-parallel alignment of DNA helices with precisely controlled angle. By using the layered-crossover motif, the scaffold can go through the 3D framework DNA origami structures. The properties of precise angle control of the layered-crossover tiles can also be used to assemble 2D and 3D crystals. One the dynamic control part, a de-novo-designed riboregulator is developed that can recognize single nucleotide variation. The riboregulators can also be used to develop paper-based diagnostic devices.