Physicochemically tunable polyfunctionalized RNA square architecture with fluorogenic and ribozymatic properties

Daniel L. Jasinski, Emil F. Khisamutdinov, Yuri L. Lyubchenko, Peixuan Guo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Recent advances in RNA nanotechnology allow the rational design of various nanoarchitectures. Previous methods utilized conserved angles from natural RNA motifs to form geometries with specific sizes. However, the feasibility of producing RNA architecture with variable sizes using native motifs featuring fixed sizes and angles is limited. It would be advantageous to display RNA nanoparticles of diverse shape and size derived from a given primary sequence. Here, we report an approach to construct RNA nanoparticles with tunable size and stability. Multifunctional RNA squares with a 90° angle were constructed by tuning the 60° angle of the three-way junction (3WJ) motif from the packaging RNA (pRNA) of the bacteriophage phi29 DNA packaging motor. The physicochemical properties and size of the RNA square were also easily tuned by modulating the "core" strand and adjusting the length of the sides of the square via predictable design. Squares of 5, 10, and 20 nm were constructed, each showing diverse thermodynamic and chemical stabilities. Four "arms" extending from the corners of the square were used to incorporate siRNA, ribozyme, and fluorogenic RNA motifs. Unique intramolecular contact using the pre-existing intricacy of the 3WJ avoids relatively weaker intermolecular interactions via kissing loops or sticky ends. Utilizing the 3WJ motif, we have employed a modular design technique to construct variable-size RNA squares with controllable properties and functionalities for diverse and versatile applications with engineering, pharmaceutical, and medical potential. This technique for simple design to finely tune physicochemical properties adds a new angle to RNA nanotechnology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7620-7629
Number of pages10
JournalACS Nano
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2014


  • RNA nanostructure
  • RNA nanotechnology
  • biomimetics
  • nanobiotechnology
  • pRNA-3WJ motif

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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