Leakless end-to-end transport of small molecules through micron-length DNA nanochannels
Designed and engineered protein and DNA nanopores can be used to sense and characterize single molecules and control transmembrane transport of molecular species. However, designed biomolecular pores are less than 100 nm in length and are used primarily for transport across lipid membranes. Nanochannels that span longer distances could be used as conduits for molecules between nonadjacent compartments or cells. Here, we design micrometer-long, 7-nm-diameter DNA nanochannels that small molecules can traverse according to the laws of continuum diffusion. Binding DNA origami caps to channel ends eliminates transport and demonstrates that molecules diffuse from one channel end to the other rather than permeating through channel walls. These micrometer-length nanochannels can also grow, form interconnects, and interface with living cells. This work thus shows how to construct multifunctional, dynamic agents that control molecular transport, opening ways of studying intercellular signaling and modulating molecular transport between synthetic and living cells.