Read the full article here: Nat. Commun.11, 3658 (2020).
by Jie, D., Walther, A.
Biological systems organize multiple hierarchical structures in parallel, and create dynamic assemblies and functions by energy dissipation. In contrast, emerging artificial non-equilibrium self-assembling systems have remained relatively simplistic concerning hierarchical design, and non-equilibrium multi-component systems are uncharted territory. Here we report a modular DNA toolbox allowing to program transient non-equilibrium multicomponent systems across hierarchical length scales by introducing chemically fueled molecular recognition orchestrated by reaction networks of concurrent ATP-powered ligation and cleavage of freely programmable DNA building blocks. Going across hierarchical levels, we demonstrate transient side-chain functionalized nucleic acid polymers, and further introduce the concept of transient cooperative multivalency as a key to bridge length scales to pioneer fuel-driven encapsulation, self-assembly of colloids, and non-equilibrium transient narcissistic colloidal self-sorting on a systems level. The fully programmable and functionalizable DNA components pave the way to design chemically fueled 4D (3 space, 1 time) molecular multicomponent systems and autonomous materials.