Conformational Dynamics of Mechanically Compliant DNA Nanostructures from Coarse-Grained Molecular Dynamics Simulations.
Structural DNA nanotechnology, the assembly of rigid 3D structures of complex yet precise geometries, has recently been used to design dynamic, mechanically compliant nanostructures with tunable equilibrium conformations and conformational distributions. Here we use coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations to provide insights into the conformational dynamics of a set of mechanically compliant DNA nanostructures-DNA hinges that use single-stranded DNA "springs" to tune the equilibrium conformation of a layered double-stranded DNA "joint" connecting two stiff "arms" constructed from DNA helix bundles. The simulations reproduce the experimentally measured equilibrium angles between hinge arms for a range of hinge designs. The hinges are found to be structurally stable, except for some fraying of the open ends of the DNA helices comprising the hinge arms and some loss of base-pairing interactions in the joint regions coinciding with the crossover junctions, especially in hinges designed to exhibit a small bending angle that exhibit large local stresses resulting in strong kinks in their joints. Principal component analysis reveals that while the hinge dynamics are dominated by bending motion, some twisting and sliding of hinge arms relative to each other also exists. Forced deformation of the hinges reveals distinct bending mechanisms for hinges with short, inextensible springs versus those with longer, more extensible springs. Lastly, we introduce an approach for rapidly predicting equilibrium hinge angles from individual force-deformation behaviors of its single- and double-stranded DNA components. Taken together, these results demonstrate that coarse-grained modeling is a promising approach for designing, predicting, and studying the dynamics of compliant DNA nanostructures, where conformational fluctuations become important, multiple deformation mechanisms exist, and continuum approaches may not yield accurate properties.
Shi, Z; Castro, CE; Arya, G
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