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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Backbone-free duplex-stacked monomer nucleic acids exhibiting Watson–Crick selectivity


We demonstrate that nucleic acid (NA) mononucleotide triphosphates (dNTPs and rNTPs), at sufficiently high concentration and low temperature in aqueous solution, can exhibit a phase transition in which chromonic columnar liquid crystal ordering spontaneously appears. Remarkably, this polymer-free state exhibits, in a self-assembly of NA monomers, the key structural elements of biological nucleic acids, including: long-ranged duplex stacking of base pairs, complementarity-dependent partitioning of molecules, and Watson-Crick selectivity, such that, among all solutions of adenosine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine NTPs and their binary mixtures, duplex columnar ordering is most stable in the A-T and C-G combinations.

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