Structural stability of DNA origami nanostructures in the presence of chaotropic agents†
DNA origami represent powerful platforms for single-molecule investigations of biomolecular processes. The required structural integrity of the DNA origami may, however, pose significant limitations regarding their applicability, for instance in protein folding studies that require strongly denaturing conditions. Here, we therefore report a detailed study on the stability of 2D DNA origami triangles in the presence of the strong chaotropic denaturing agents urea and guanidinium chloride (GdmCl) and its dependence on concentration and temperature. At room temperature, the DNA origami triangles are stable up to at least 24 h in both denaturants at concentrations as high as 6 M. At elevated temperatures, however, structural stability is governed by variations in the melting temperature of the individual staple strands. Therefore, the global melting temperature of the DNA origami does not represent an accurate measure of their structural stability. Although GdmCl has a stronger effect on the global melting temperature, its attack results in less structural damage than observed for urea under equivalent conditions. This enhanced structural stability most likely originates from the ionic nature of GdmCl. By rational design of the arrangement and lengths of the individual staple strands used for the folding of a particular shape, however, the structural stability of DNA origami may be enhanced even further to meet individual experimental requirements. Overall, their high stability renders DNA origami promising platforms for biomolecular studies in the presence of chaotropic agents, including single-molecule protein folding or structural switching.