Flexibility defines structure in crystals of amphiphilic DNA nanostars.

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Brady, Ryan A 
Kaufhold, Will T 
Brooks, Nicholas J 
Foderà, Vito 
Di Michele, Lorenzo  ORCID logo  https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1458-9747

DNA nanostructures with programmable shape and interactions can be used as building blocks for the self-assembly of crystalline materials with prescribed nanoscale features, holding a vast technological potential. Structural rigidity and bond directionality have been recognised as key design features for DNA motifs to sustain long-range order in 3D, but the practical challenges associated with prescribing building-block geometry with sufficient accuracy have limited the variety of available designs. We have recently introduced a novel platform for the one-pot preparation of crystalline DNA frameworks supported by a combination of Watson-Crick base pairing and hydrophobic forces (Brady et al 2017 Nano Lett. 17 3276-81). Here we use small angle x-ray scattering and coarse-grained molecular simulations to demonstrate that, as opposed to available all-DNA approaches, amphiphilic motifs do not rely on structural rigidity to support long-range order. Instead, the flexibility of amphiphilic DNA building-blocks is a crucial feature for successful crystallisation.

Biomechanical Phenomena, Crystallography, X-Ray, DNA, Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions, Models, Molecular, Nanostructures, Nucleic Acid Conformation
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J Phys Condens Matter
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IOP Publishing
EPSRC (1494571)
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/L015978/1)