A Signal-Passing DNA-Strand-Exchange Mechanism for Active Self-Assembly of DNA Nanostructures

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DNA nanostructured tiles play an active role in their own self-assembly in the system described herein whereby they initiate a binding event that produces a cascading assembly process. We present DNA tiles that have a simple but powerful property: they respond to a binding event at one end of the tile by passing a signal across the tile to activate a binding site at the other end. This action allows sequential, virtually irreversible self-assembly of tiles and enables local communication during the self-assembly process. This localized signal-passing mechanism provides a new element of control for autonomous self-assembly of DNA nanostructures.