What is it about?

Researchers have shown that DNA can be used to build chiral nanocages which fit together snugly to form larger scale structures. As the DNA structures can be programmed to carry or display molecules of interest, the ability to fit two different type of cages together could have wide application.

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Why is it important?

Your left hand and your right hand are different. Place one on top of the other and you will see that they do not align, the thumbs for example are on different sides. Your hands are instances of chiral structures – structures that are different but are mirror images of each other. Interestingly, if you put your hands palm-to-palm they fit together perfectly. A research team at Jagiellonian University have now achieved something similar using tiny containers made from DNA the containers, less than 60 nanometres in diameter, are a hollow shape known as a snub cube which come in left and right handed versions. By modifying certain faces of the snub cubes with short pieces of DNA that bind to corresponding short pieces on the appropriate faces of other snub cubes, the researchers were able to fit them together to form pairs of long lines of snub cubes and were able to alternate between left and right handed versions. “Being able to closely fit together two different three dimensional DNA structures, essentially without a gap, is an interesting result. As the snub cubes are hollow it raises the possibility of building large arrays of alternating snub cubes of different chirality with a different cargo in each.” said Prof Jonathan Heddle, in whose lab the research was carried out. Such cages may be useful as new materials or drug delivery systems. The research was carried out in the Malopolska Centre of Biotechnology, in collaboration with the Department of Chemistry, Jagiellonian University.


We were inspired to make this DNA structure by our earlier work on protein nanocages whcih also resembled snub cubes.

Professor Jonathan Gardiner Heddle
Jagiellonian University

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This page is a summary of: Chiral 3D DNA origami structures for ordered heterologous arrays, Nanoscale Advances, January 2021, Royal Society of Chemistry, DOI: 10.1039/d1na00385b.
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