Chiral multichromophoric supramolecular nanostructures assembled by single stranded DNA and RNA templates

Milan Balaz, Shambhavi Tannir, Krisztina Varga

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


A complex and well-organized network of non-covalent bonds (also known as supramolecular interactions) is the foundation of the immense functional and structural diversity of biological systems. Chirality can be found at the center of almost all biological processes as clearly evidenced by the homochirality of the biological world. Stereoselective interactions are responsible for the self-assembly of macromolecules, biomolecular recognition, as well as cellular machinery and communication. Non-covalent interactions are also ideally suited for the construction of bio-inspired artificial nanoarchitectures with prescribed properties and functions. Nucleic acids (NAs) proved to be valuable chiral scaffolds for precise arrangement of desired molecular components into chiral, periodically patterned nanosystems. Single stranded NAs (ssDNA and ssRNA) are particularly suitable for templated supramolecular bottom-up nanoassembly. In this review article, we describe the progress in using the homochiral ssDNA and ssRNA as templates to assemble molecular components into chiral double-zipper supramolecular nanostructures via non-covalent interactions (i.e., hydrogen and coordination bonding, electrostatic and π–π stacking interactions) and discuss their chiroptical and structural properties. We outline the challenges in controlling the handedness of ssNA templated assemblies as well as challenges in accessing either of two helical geometries using the same ssNA template. We discuss empirical methods and theoretical simulations for determination of the handedness as well as chiroptical and structural properties of templated assemblies. We highlight higher order architectures of chiral ssNA templated nanoassemblies as detected by atomic force and transmission electron microscopies (AFM and TEM).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-83
Number of pages18
JournalCoordination Chemistry Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Oct 15

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the National Science Foundation (award CBET-1403947; KV, MB), Yonsei University (MB) and the University of New Hampshire (KV).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier B.V.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry


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