Self-folding of an information-carrying polymer into a defined structure is foundational to biology and offers attractive potential as a synthetic strategy. Although multicomponent self-assembly has produced complex synthetic nanostructures, unimolecular folding has seen limited progress.We describe a framework to design and synthesize a single DNA or RNA strand to self-fold into a complex yet unknotted structure that approximates an arbitrary user-prescribed shape. We experimentally construct diverse multikilobase single-stranded structures, including a ∼10, 000-nucleotide (nt) DNA structure and a ∼6000-nt RNA structure. We demonstrate facile replication of the strand in vitro and in living cells. The work here thus establishes unimolecular folding as a general strategy for constructing complex and replicable nucleic acid nanostructures, and expands the design space and material scalability for bottom-up nanotechnology.
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