Amphiphilic DNA nanostructures for bottom-up synthetic biology
DNA nanotechnology enables the construction of sophisticated biomimetic nanomachines that are increasingly central to the growing efforts of creating complex cell-like entities from the bottom-up. DNA nanostructures have been proposed as both structural and functional elements of these artificial cells, and in many instances are decorated with hydrophobic moieties to enable interfacing with synthetic lipid bilayers or regulating bulk self-organisation. In this feature article we review recent efforts to design biomimetic membrane-anchored DNA nanostructures capable of imparting complex functionalities to cell-like objects, such as regulated adhesion, tissue formation, communication and transport. We then discuss the ability of hydrophobic modifications to enable the self-assembly of DNA-based nanostructured frameworks with prescribed morphology and functionality, and explore the relevance of these novel materials for artificial cell science and beyond. Finally, we comment on the yet mostly unexpressed potential of amphiphilic DNA-nanotechnology as a complete toolbox for bottom-up synthetic biology – a figurative and literal scaffold upon which the next generation of synthetic cells could be built.