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Design and Characterization of RNA Nanotubes

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journal contribution
posted on 20.04.2019, 19:03 by Jaimie Marie Stewart, Cody Geary, Elisa Franco
RNA is a functionally rich and diverse biomaterial responsible for regulating several cellular processes. This functionality has been harnessed to build predominately small nanoscale structures for drug delivery and the treatment of disease. The understanding of design principles to build large RNA structures will allow for further control of stoichiometry and spatial arrangement drugs and ligands. We present the design and characterization of RNA nanotubes that self-assemble from programmable monomers, or tiles, formed by five distinct RNA strands. Tiles include double crossover junctions and assemble via single-stranded sticky-end domains. We find that nanotube formation is dependent on the intertile crossover distance. The average length observed for the annealed RNA nanotubes is ≈1.5 μm, with many nanotubes exceeding 10 μm, enabling the characterization of RNA nanotubes length distribution via fluorescence microscopy. Assembled tubes were observed to be stable for more than 24 h, however post-annealing growth under isothermal conditions does not occur. Nanotubes assemble also from RNA tiles modified to include a single-stranded overhang (toehold), suggesting that it may be possible to decorate these large RNA scaffolds with nanoparticles or other nucleic acid molecules.