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Enzyme-Free Nucleic Acid Dynamical Systems

By Niranjan Srinivas, James Parkin, Georg Seelig, Erik Winfree, David Soloveichik

Posted 16 May 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/138420 (published DOI: 10.1126/science.aal2052)

Chemistries exhibiting complex dynamics - from inorganic oscillators to gene regulatory networks - have been long known but either cannot be reprogrammed at will, or rely on the sophisticated chemistry underlying the central dogma. Can simpler molecular mechanisms, designed from scratch, exhibit the same range of behaviors? Abstract coupled chemical reactions have been proposed as a programming language for complex dynamics, along with their systematic implementation using short synthetic DNA molecules. We developed this technology for dynamical systems, identifying critical design principles and codifying them into a compiler automating the design process. Using this approach, we built an oscillator containing only DNA components, establishing that Watson-Crick base pairing interactions alone suffice for arbitrarily complex dynamics. Our results argue that autonomous molecular systems that interact with and control their chemical environment can be designed via molecular programming languages.

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