Investigating the dynamics of surface-immobilized DNA nanomachines

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Surface-immobilization of molecules can have a profound influence on their structure, function and dynamics. Toehold-mediated strand displacement is often used in solution to drive synthetic nanomachines made from DNA, but the effects of surface-immobilization on the mechanism and kinetics of this reaction have not yet been fully elucidated. Here we show that the kinetics of strand displacement in surface-immobilized nanomachines are significantly different to those of the solution phase reaction, and we attribute this to the effects of intermolecular interactions within the DNA layer. We demonstrate that the dynamics of strand displacement can be manipulated by changing strand length, concentration and G/C content. By inserting mismatched bases it is also possible to tune the rates of the constituent displacement processes (toehold-binding and branch migration) independently, and information can be encoded in the time-dependence of the overall reaction. Our findings will facilitate the rational design of surface-immobilized dynamic DNA nanomachines, including computing devices and track-based motors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number29581
Number of pages10
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jul 2016

Bibliographical note

© 2016, The Authors.


  • Biophysical Phenomena
  • DNA/chemistry
  • Immobilized Nucleic Acids/chemistry
  • Kinetics
  • Nanostructures

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