M1.3 – a small scaffold for DNA origami
The DNA origami method produces programmable nanoscale objects that form when one long scaffold strand hybridizes to numerous oligonucleotide staple strands. One scaffold strand is dominating the field: M13mp18, a bacteriophage-derived vector 7249 nucleotides in length. The full-length M13 is typically folded by using over 200 staple oligonucleotides. Here we report the convenient preparation of a 704 nt fragment dubbed “M1.3” as a linear or cyclic scaffold and the assembly of small origami structures with just 15–24 staple strands. A typical M1.3 origami is large enough to be visualized by TEM, but small enough to show a cooperativity in its assembly and thermal denaturation that is reminiscent of oligonucleotide duplexes. Due to its medium size, M1.3 origami with globally modified staples is affordable. As a proof of principle, two origami structures with globally 5′-capped staples were prepared and were shown to give higher UV-melting points than the corresponding assembly with unmodified DNA. M1.3 has the size of a gene, not a genome, and may function as a model for gene-based nanostructures. Small origami with M1.3 as a scaffold may serve as a workbench for chemical, physical, and biological experiments.