Self-Assembly Properties and Dynamics of Synthetic Proteo–Nucleic Building Blocks in Solution and on Surfaces

Synthetic proteo–nucleic structures (PDNAs) encompassing a single-stranded DNA sequence covalently attached to a redox protein domain able to interact with surface or matrix were designed and characterized. They constitute versatile building blocks alternative to regular DNA for creating scaffolds with optical, electrical, or catalytic properties. PDNAs self-assemble in the presence of complementary oligonucleotides, to form a network of protein domains linked by double-stranded DNA segments. Electrophoretic and hydrodynamic behaviors of PDNAs and corresponding DNA were compared under electrophoresis and gel filtration conditions. Hybridization rates between small and large assemblies were characterized by rapid-mixing experiments. Results showed that the protein part significantly contributes to hydrodynamic behaviors of structures but marginally affects the conformation and hybridization properties of the nucleic domain. PDNA metal-mediated complexes with nitriloacetate-modified phospholipids can diffuse and interact at the surface of vesicles or supported membranes. Surface plasmon resonance analysis of membrane–PDNA interactions indicated that two protein units are required to allow stable surface association and that surface occupancy constrains assembly sizes. High-speed atomic force microscopy illustrated rapid lateral diffusion of assemblies on mica, revealing transient association between noncomplementary PDNA extremities and frequent trapping by surface defects. Regularly organized protein domains were visualized using a larger DNA framework.