Future Trends in DNA-based Nanotechnology

Scientific report

International Workshop on
Future Trends in DNA-based Nanotechnology (DNATEC17)
at the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems, Dresden
29 May - 2 June 2017

Nucleic acid-based nanotechnology employing basic biological principles such as molecular recognition and self-assembly for advanced materials synthesis is now a pioneering field. This year’s DNATEC17 meeting reflected the enormous progress in this rapidly growing cross- disciplinary field. Moreover, DNATEC17 focused on a profound discussion of its future trends. By bringing experts from the field and related fields of physics, biophysics, chemistry, biology, computer science and materials science together, the meeting enhanced the exchange of ideas and understanding. This way, DNATEC17 has become an international widely recognized event in the field of DNA nanotechnology. It brought together more than 100 scientist from 22 nations.

The meeting showcased the most recent progress in nucleic acid-based nanotechnology with invited speakers who are pioneers and key players of the field. Ned Seeman, Ebbe Anderson, Mark Bathe, Yonggang Ke, Chengde Mao, William Shih and Peng Yin discussed the amazing capability to design and construct DNA and RNA nanostructures of increasing complexity. Robust RNA folding into predesigned structures is demonstrated in cells. Automated design features and modelling of the structure dynamics, as presented by Aleksei Aksimentiev, are more widely introduced to the field to enable scientists to design their own structures. Such design capabilities enable more applications to follow. Guillermo Acuna, Sebastien Bidault, Frank Cichos, Baoquan Ding, Oleg Gang, Tim Liedl, Philip Tinnefeld and Qiangbing Wang discussed their progress in using DNA nanostructures to direct the assembly of photonic structures to build plasmonic nanodevices and nanoswimmers. Ashwin Gopinath from Caltech showed the amazing capability to precisely position single DNA origami containing chromophores to create defects in photonic crystals. Oleg Gang presented his groundbreaking results of using DNA origami to build 3D arrays to organize nanoparticles. Programmable as well as large-scale assembly of nanoparticles and proteins was shown by Yossi Weizmann, Hendrik Dietz and Andreas Fery.

DNA nanostructure provides excellent molecular pegboards to position molecular imaging probes for super-resolution fluorescence imaging. Ralph Jungman and Peng Yin talked about their results of using DNA pegboard to achieve super-resolution imaging down to 5 nm resolution.

DNA-directed lipid assembly is an emerging hot topic in the field. Chenxiang Lin from Yale, Dongsheng Liu from China, Stefan Howorka and Ulrich Keyser from UK discussed their work on using DNA nanostructures to engineer shapes of lipids and liposomes to create artificial membrane nanopores and nuclear nanopores. These would lead to new methods in synthetic biology to control material transport in and out of cellular systems.

Dynamic nucleic acid nanotechnology was another new and fascinating topic of the meeting. Andrew Turberfield and Yonggang Ke discussed their work on using DNA to building molecular devices and transformers. Yonggang Ke presented an amazing work of reconfiguring DNA origami by utilizing conformational isomerization of DNA junctions.

Nucleic acid nanotechnology has provided its potential for programmable molecular circuitry, intracellular biocomputation and synthetic biology. Alex Green and Yannick Rondelez showcased their work on using DNA and RNA toehold switches to control and construct biological circuitry.

Functional nucleic acid nanotechnology for biological systems was another important topic in the meeting. Yamuna Krishnan, Kurt Gothelf and Itamar Willner presented their results of using DNA nanostructures to deliver, image and sense events in and outside of cells. The first application of DNA origami in dynamic biosensors was reported by Ulrich Rant.

Young scientists could present their results in short invited talks or via posters. Two evening sessions were dedicated to the discussion of the various posters. These sessions have been a good venue for young scientists to interact with world leading scientists in the field. The last day of the meeting was focused on tutorials on photonic systems and controlled surface immobilization for young students and beginners in the field.

It is a particular pleasure of the scientific coordinators of the meeting, Chunhai Fan (Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China), Michael Mertig (Technische Universita?t Dresden and Kurt-Schwabe-Institut fu?r Mess- und Sensortechnik e.V., Germany) and Hao Yan (Arizona State University, USA), to thank the local organizers, Katrin Lantsch and Dr. Michael Genkin, for their perfect organization of the meeting and the great support for its realization. The meeting was further financially supported by a DFG grant to Michael Mertig and a NSF and an ONR grants to Hao Yan.