A Self-Regulating DNA Rotaxane Linear Actuator Driven by Chemical Energy

Ze Yu, Mathias Centola, Julián Valero, Michael Matthies, Petr Šulc, Michael Famulok

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Nature-inspired molecular machines can exert mechanical forces by controlling and varying the distance between two molecular subunits in response to different inputs. Here, we present an automated molecular linear actuator composed of T7 RNA polymerase (T7RNAP) and a DNA [2]rotaxane. A T7 promoter region and terminator sequences are introduced into the rotaxane axle to achieve automated and iterative binding and detachment of T7RNAP in a self-controlled fashion. Transcription by T7RNAP is exploited to control the release of the macrocycle from a single-stranded (ss) region in the T7 promoter to switch back and forth from a static state (hybridized macrocycle) to a dynamic state (movable macrocycle). During transcription, the T7RNAP keeps restricting the movement range on the axle available for the interlocked macrocycle and prevents its return to the promotor region. Since this range is continuously depleted as T7RNAP moves along, a directional and active movement of the macrocycle occurs. When it reaches the transcription terminator, the polymerase detaches, and the system can reset as the macrocycle moves back to hybridize again to the ss-promoter docking site. The hybridization is required for the initiation of a new transcription cycle. The rotaxane actuator runs autonomously and repeats these self-controlled cycles of transcription and movement as long as NTP-fuel is available.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13292-13298
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number33
StatePublished - Aug 25 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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