Dynamic control of DNA condensation

Siddharth Agarwal, Dino Osmanovic, Mahdi Dizani, Melissa A. Klocke, Elisa Franco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Artificial biomolecular condensates are emerging as a versatile approach to organize molecular targets and reactions without the need for lipid membranes. Here we ask whether the temporal response of artificial condensates can be controlled via designed chemical reactions. We address this general question by considering a model problem in which a phase separating component participates in reactions that dynamically activate or deactivate its ability to self-attract. Through a theoretical model we illustrate the transient and equilibrium effects of reactions, linking condensate response and reaction parameters. We experimentally realize our model problem using star-shaped DNA motifs known as nanostars to generate condensates, and we take advantage of strand invasion and displacement reactions to kinetically control the capacity of nanostars to interact. We demonstrate reversible dissolution and growth of DNA condensates in the presence of specific DNA inputs, and we characterize the role of toehold domains, nanostar size, and nanostar valency. Our results will support the development of artificial biomolecular condensates that can adapt to environmental changes with prescribed temporal dynamics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1915
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2024
Externally publishedYes

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© The Author(s) 2024.


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