A single-stranded architecture for cotranscriptional folding of RNA nanostructures

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Science  15 Aug 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6198, pp. 799-804
DOI: 10.1126/science.1253920

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The future of RNA origami writ large

Researchers have long fabricated intricate nanostructures from carefully linked DNA strands. Now they can use RNA made by gene expression, which avoids the costly strand synthesis and lengthy annealing steps necessary with DNA origami. Geary et al. used molecular modeling to extend the size of folded RNA origami structures (see the Perspective by Leontis and Westhof). The modeling revealed assembly patterns for linking single-stranded RNA into A-form helices. The authors created two-dimensional structures as large as 660 nucleotides on mica surfaces.

Science, this issue p. 799; see also p. 732


Artificial DNA and RNA structures have been used as scaffolds for a variety of nanoscale devices. In comparison to DNA structures, RNA structures have been limited in size, but they also have advantages: RNA can fold during transcription and thus can be genetically encoded and expressed in cells. We introduce an architecture for designing artificial RNA structures that fold from a single strand, in which arrays of antiparallel RNA helices are precisely organized by RNA tertiary motifs and a new type of crossover pattern. We constructed RNA tiles that assemble into hexagonal lattices and demonstrated that lattices can be made by annealing and/or cotranscriptional folding. Tiles can be scaled up to 660 nucleotides in length, reaching a size comparable to that of large natural ribozymes.

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