Availability-Driven Design of Hairpin Fuels and Small Interfering Strands for Leakage Reduction in Autocatalytic Networks

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DNA-based circuits and computational tools offer great potential for advanced biomedical and technological applications. However, leakage, which is the production of an output in the absence of an input, widely exists in DNA network. As a new approach to leakage reduction, this study utilizes availability to reduce leakage in an entropy-driven autocatalytic DNA reaction networks. Here, we report the performance improvements resulting from direct tailoring of fuel strand availability through two novel approaches: (1) the addition of interfering domains to fuel strands, and (2) the introduction of separate small interfering strands. The best performing fuel designs resulted in increased performance ratios of up to 22%. Employing small interfering strands (5–12 nucleotides (nt)) improved the performance ratios by up to 21%. Furthermore, the stability of the network using either leakage reduction method matched well with computed availability and experimental results showing Spearman correlation coefficients of −0.84 for modified fuel strands and −0.92 for small interfering strands.