A Programmable DNA Origami Platform for Organizing Intrinsically Disordered Nucleoporins within Nanopore Confinement

Nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) form gateways that control molecular exchange between the nucleus and the cytoplasm. They impose a diffusion barrier to macromolecules and enable the selective transport of nuclear transport receptors with bound cargo. The underlying mechanisms that establish these permeability properties remain to be fully elucidated but require unstructured nuclear pore proteins rich in Phe-Gly (FG)-repeat domains of different types, such as FxFG and GLFG. While physical modeling and <i>in vitro</i> approaches have provided a framework for explaining how the FG network contributes to the barrier and transport properties of the NPC, it remains unknown whether the number and/or the spatial positioning of different FG-domains along a cylindrical, ∼40 nm diameter transport channel contributes to their collective properties and function. To begin to answer these questions, we have used DNA origami to build a cylinder that mimics the dimensions of the central transport channel and can house a specified number of FG-domains at specific positions with easily tunable design parameters, such as grafting density and topology. We find the overall morphology of the FG-domain assemblies to be dependent on their chemical composition, determined by the type and density of FG-repeat, and on their architectural confinement provided by the DNA cylinder, largely consistent with here presented molecular dynamics simulations based on a coarse-grained polymer model. In addition, high-speed atomic force microscopy reveals local and reversible FG-domain condensation that transiently occludes the lumen of the DNA central channel mimics, suggestive of how the NPC might establish its permeability properties.