Engineering interlocking DNA rings with weak physical interactions
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Catenanes are intriguing molecular assemblies for engineering unique molecular devices. The resident rings of a catenane are expected to execute unhindered rotation around each other, and to do so, they must have weak physical interactions with each other. Due to sequence programmability, DNA has become a popular material for nanoscale object engineering. However, current DNA catenanes, particularly in the single-stranded (ss) form, are synthesized through the formation of a linking duplex, which makes them less ideal as mobile elements for molecular machines. Herein we adopt a random library approach to engineer ssDNA  catenanes (two interlocked DNA rings) without a linking duplex. Results from DNA hybridization, double-stranded catenane synthesis and rolling circle amplification experiments signify that representative catenanes have weak physical interactions and are capable of operating as independent units. Our findings lay the foundation for exploring free-functioning interlocked DNA rings for the design of elaborate nanoscale machines based on DNA.
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