Programming Protein Polymerization with DNA

Janet R. McMillan, Oliver G. Hayes, Jonathan P. Remis, Chad A. Mirkin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


A strategy that utilizes DNA for controlling the association pathway of proteins is described. This strategy uses sequence-specific DNA interactions to program energy barriers for polymerization, allowing for either step-growth or chain-growth pathways to be accessed. Two sets of mutant green fluorescent protein (mGFP)-DNA monomers with single DNA modifications have been synthesized and characterized. Depending on the deliberately controlled sequence and conformation of the appended DNA, these monomers can be polymerized through either a step-growth or chain-growth pathway. Cryo-electron microscopy with Volta phase plate technology enables the visualization of the distribution of the oligomer and polymer products, and even the small mGFP-DNA monomers. Whereas cyclic and linear polymer distributions were observed for the step-growth DNA design, in the case of the chain-growth system linear chains exclusively were observed, and a dependence of the chain length on the concentration of the initiator strand was noted. Importantly, the chain-growth system possesses a living character whereby chains can be extended with the addition of fresh monomer. This work represents an important and early example of mechanistic control over protein assembly, thereby establishing a robust methodology for synthesizing oligomeric and polymeric protein-based materials with exceptional control over architecture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15950-15956
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number46
StatePublished - Nov 21 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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