Synthesis and characterisation of nucleic acid nanostructures based on synthetic nucleic acids


Nucleic acids are attractive materials for nanotechnology due to their programmable self-assembly and sub-angstrom precise positioning of chemical functionalities. Although design and assembly methods for DNA nanostructures have become increasingly more sophisticated, applications of these nanostructures are limited by their chemical and biological instability. This can be addressed by developing nanostructures based on synthetic nucleic acids (XNAs) that are naturally more resistant than the natural counterparts. The project will establish the methodology for the efficient synthesis of pore-like XNA nanostructures which is nuclease resistant and can be applied as novel and specific cell-lysing agents against cancer cells.


Pinheiro, V. B., Taylor, A. I., Cozens, C., Abramov, M., Renders, M., Zhang, S., . . . Holliger, P. (2012). Synthetic genetic polymers capable of heredity and evolution. Science, 336 (6079), 341-344


Pinheiro, V. B., & Holliger, P. (2012). The XNA world: progress towards replication and evolution of synthetic genetic polymers. Curr Opin Chem Biol, 16 (3-4), 245-252. doi:10.1016/j.cbpa.2012.05.198


Lipid Bilayer-Spanning DNA Nanopores with a Bifunctional Porphyrin Anchor" J. R. Burns, K. Göpfrich, J. W. Wood, V. V. Thacker, E. Stulz, U. F. Keyser, S. Howorka (2013) Angewandte Chemie, 52 (46), 12069–12072, Hot Paper, Front cover.


Self-Assembled DNA Nanopores that Span Lipid Bilayers. S. Burns, Stulz, E., S. Howorka (2013) Nano Letters, 13(6): 2351-2356

Biological Areas:



Genes, development and STEM approaches to biology