Steric Communication between Dynamic Components on DNA Nanodevices.


Biomolecular nanotechnology has helped emulate basic robotic capabilities such as defined motion, sensing, and actuation in synthetic nanoscale systems. DNA origami is an attractive approach for nanorobotics, as it enables creation of devices with complex geometry, programmed motion, rapid actuation, force application, and various kinds of sensing modalities. Advanced robotic functions like feedback control, autonomy, or programmed routines also require the ability to transmit signals among subcomponents. Prior work in DNA nanotechnology has established approaches for signal transmission, for example through diffusing strands or structurally coupled motions. However, soluble communication is often slow and structural coupling of motions can limit the function of individual components, for example to respond to the environment. Here, we introduce an approach inspired by protein allostery to transmit signals between two distal dynamic components through steric interactions. These components undergo separate thermal fluctuations where certain conformations of one arm will sterically occlude conformations of the distal arm. We implement this approach in a DNA origami device consisting of two stiff arms each connected to a base platform via a flexible hinge joint. We demonstrate the ability for one arm to sterically regulate both the range of motion and the conformational state (latched or freely fluctuating) of the distal arm, results that are quantitatively captured by mesoscopic simulations using experimentally informed energy landscapes for hinge-angle fluctuations. We further demonstrate the ability to modulate signal transmission by mechanically tuning the range of thermal fluctuations and controlling the conformational states of the arms. Our results establish a communication mechanism well-suited to transmit signals between thermally fluctuating dynamic components and provide a path to transmitting signals where the input is a dynamic response to parameters like force or solution conditions.

Pretty Title
Steric Communication between Dynamic Components on DNA Nanodevices.