The assembly of nanoparticles into three-dimensional (3D) architectures could allow for greater control of the interactions between these particles or with molecules. DNA tubes are known to form through either self-association of multi-helix DNA bundle structures or closing up of 2D DNA tile lattices. By the attachment of single-stranded DNA to gold nanoparticles, nanotubes of various 3D architectures can form, ranging in shape from stacked rings to single spirals, double spirals, and nested spirals. The nanoparticles are active elements that control the preference for specific tube conformations through size-dependent steric repulsion effects. For example, we can control the tube assembly to favor stacked-ring structures using 10-nanometer gold nanoparticles. Electron tomography revealed a left-handed chirality in the spiral tubes, double-wall tube features, and conformational transitions between tubes.
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