Functionalizing DNA origami by triplex-directed site-specific photo-cross-linking

Shantam Kalra, Amber Donnelly, Nishtha Singh, Daniel Matthews, Rafael Del Villar-Guerra, Victoria Bemmer, Cyril Dominguez, Natalie Allcock, Dmitry Cherny, Andrey Revyakin, David A. Rusling

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Here, we present a cross-linking approach to covalently functionalize and stabilize DNA origami structures in a one-pot reaction. Our strategy involves adding nucleotide sequences to adjacent staple strands, so that, upon assembly of the origami structure, the extensions form short hairpin duplexes targetable by psoralen-labeled triplex-forming oligonucleotides bearing other functional groups (pso-TFOs). Subsequent irradiation with UVA light generates psoralen adducts with one or both hairpin staples leading to site-specific attachment of the pso-TFO (and attached group) to the origami with ca. 80% efficiency. Bis-adduct formation between strands in proximal hairpins further tethers the TFO to the structure and generates “superstaples” that improve the structural integrity of the functionalized complex. We show that directing cross-linking to regions outside of the origami core dramatically reduces sensitivity of the structures to thermal denaturation and disassembly by T7 RNA polymerase. We also show that the underlying duplex regions of the origami core are digested by DNase I and thus remain accessible to read-out by DNA-binding proteins. Our strategy is scalable and cost-effective, as it works with existing DNA origami structures, does not require scaffold redesign, and can be achieved with just one psoralen-modified oligonucleotide.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Early online date2 May 2024
Publication statusEarly online - 2 May 2024


  • UKRI
  • BB/L021730/1

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