Dynamic protein assembly by programmable DNA strand displacement. Academic Article uri icon


  • Inspired by the remarkable ability of natural protein switches to sense and respond to a wide range of environmental queues, here we report a strategy to engineer synthetic protein switches by using DNA strand displacement to dynamically organize proteins with highly diverse and complex logic gate architectures. We show that DNA strand displacement can be used to dynamically control the spatial proximity and the corresponding fluorescence resonance energy transfer between two fluorescent proteins. Performing Boolean logic operations enabled the explicit control of protein proximity using multi-input, reversible and amplification architectures. We further demonstrate the power of this technology beyond sensing by achieving dynamic control of an enzyme cascade. Finally, we establish the utility of the approach as a synthetic computing platform that drives the dynamic reconstitution of a split enzyme for targeted prodrug activation based on the sensing of cancer-specific miRNAs.

published proceedings

  • Nat Chem

altmetric score

  • 101.78

author list (cited authors)

  • Chen, R. P., Blackstock, D., Sun, Q., & Chen, W.

citation count

  • 76

complete list of authors

  • Chen, Rebecca P||Blackstock, Daniel||Sun, Qing||Chen, Wilfred

publication date

  • January 2018