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    Diverse and robust molecular algorithms using reprogrammable DNA self-assembly


    Woods, Damien and Doty, David and Myhrvold, Cameron and Hui, Joy and Zhou, Felix and Yin, Peng and Winfree, Erik (2019) Diverse and robust molecular algorithms using reprogrammable DNA self-assembly. Nature, 567. pp. 366-372. ISSN 0028-0836

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    Abstract

    Molecular biology provides an inspiring proof-of-principle that chemical systems can store and process information to direct molecular activities such as the fabrication of complex structures from molecular components. To develop information-based chemistry as a technology for programming matter to function in ways not seen in biological systems, it is necessary to understand how molecular interactions can encode and execute algorithms. The self-assembly of relatively simple units into complex products1 is particularly well suited for such investigations. Theory that combines mathematical tiling and statistical–mechanical models of molecular crystallization has shown that algorithmic behaviour can be embedded within molecular self-assembly processes2,3, and this has been experimentally demonstrated using DNA nanotechnology4 with up to 22 tile types5–11. However, many information technologies exhibit a complexity threshold—such as the minimum transistor count needed for a general-purpose computer—beyond which the power of a reprogrammable system increases qualitatively, and it has been unclear whether the biophysics of DNA self-assembly allows that threshold to be exceeded. Here we report the design and experimental validation of a DNA tile set that contains 355 single-stranded tiles and can, through simple tile selection, be reprogrammed to implement a wide variety of 6-bit algorithms. We use this set to construct 21 circuits that execute algorithms including copying, sorting, recognizing palindromes and multiples of 3, random walking, obtaining an unbiased choice from a biased random source, electing a leader, simulating cellular automata, generating deterministic and randomized patterns, and counting to 63, with an overall per-tile error rate of less than 1 in 3,000. These findings suggest that molecular self-assembly could be a reliable algorithmic component within programmable chemical systems. The development of molecular machines that are reprogrammable— at a high level of abstraction and thus without requiring knowledge of the underlying physics—will establish a creative space in which molecular programmers can flourish.

    Item Type: Article
    Keywords: Diverse; robust molecular algorithms; reprogrammable; DNA; self-assembly;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Science and Engineering > Computer Science
    Faculty of Science and Engineering > Research Institutes > Hamilton Institute
    Item ID: 14061
    Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-019-1014-9
    Depositing User: Damien Woods
    Date Deposited: 24 Feb 2021 14:22
    Journal or Publication Title: Nature
    Publisher: Nature Research
    Refereed: Yes
    URI:

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