Understanding the mechanical properties of DNA origami tiles and controlling the kinetics of their folding and unfolding reconfiguration

Haorong Chen, Te Wei Weng, Molly M. Riccitelli, Yi Cui, Joseph Irudayaraj, Jong Hyun Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


DNA origami represents a class of highly programmable macromolecules that can go through conformational changes in response to external signals. Here we show that a two-dimensional origami rectangle can be effectively folded into a short, cylindrical tube by connecting the two opposite edges through the hybridization of linker strands and that this process can be efficiently reversed via toehold-mediated strand displacement. The reconfiguration kinetics was experimentally studied as a function of incubation temperature, initial origami concentration, missing staples, and origami geometry. A kinetic model was developed by introducing the j factor to describe the reaction rates in the cyclization process. We found that the cyclization efficiency (j factor) increases sharply with temperature and depends strongly on the structural flexibility and geometry. A simple mechanical model was used to correlate the observed cyclization efficiency with origami structure details. The mechanical analysis suggests two sources of the energy barrier for DNA origami folding: overcoming global twisting and bending the structure into a circular conformation. It also provides the first semiquantitative estimation of the rigidity of DNA interhelix crossovers, an essential element in structural DNA nanotechnology. This work demonstrates efficient DNA origami reconfiguration, advances our understanding of the dynamics and mechanical properties of self-assembled DNA structures, and should be valuable to the field of DNA nanotechnology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6995-7005
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number19
StatePublished - May 14 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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