Bionanotechnology: Biological Self-Assembly

  • Young-Chul Lee
  • Ju-Young Moon


Self-assembly phenomena are found ubiquitously in nature. Self-assembly is a term involving “the non-covalent interaction of two or more molecular subunits to form an aggregate whose novel structure and properties are determined by the nature and positioning of the individual components” [1]. Besides, in a few other reports, it has been described as “the spontaneous association and organization of individual components to form a more structured, stable, and non-covalently joined architecture” [2, 3]. Here, the self-assembly can be easily understood to be the formation of three-dimensional (3D) biological nanoarchitectures, which are constructed starting from one-dimensional (1D) biological molecules. Unlike the directed assembly techniques, the chemical complementarity and structural compatibility through non-covalent interactions in the self-assembly process are key factors in molecular self-assembly. In nature, self-assembly is an inherent unique ability of biological systems in various forms, it is an important ability in many life processes. For a long time, scientists have purposed to construct artificial objects through the self-assembly process to reach the dimensions and complexity of cells or organelles. Some examples of building blocks used in self-assembled structures exist in biological systems such as phospholipid bilayer of cell membranes, peptides, proteins, ribosome, and DNA complexes. Namely, DNA is considered as the most useful nanoscale building block owing to unique advantages in structurally stable, programmability, which involves the ability of DNA to self-assemble according to Watson–Crick base pairing [4–6]. Furthermore, the geometrical features of its double helix exhibit compatibility with other biological molecules, which should allow the construction of ‘hetero-biomaterials’ that have complex functions. So, scaling up the sizes and production of self-assembling, designer great geometrical nanostructures based on DNA is a promising approach. There are two important designs in DNA nanotechnology including DNA origami, and single-stranded tile (SST) assembly (Fig. 5.1). In origami design, long, single-stranded DNA is folded into various target shapes along with the presence of hundreds of short DNA strands called staples [5]. In contrast, SST designs are formed from single-stranded DNA-are designed to interlock with each other by the formation of DNA duplexes at their interfaces, such DNA size is generally comparable to the sizes of origami nanostructures. For bionanotechnology, the “bottom-up” assembly techniques are widely used to maximize the inherent properties of biomolecules and biology for technological applications at the nanoscale as a future direction for nanotechnology [7]. In compared with the directed assembly techniques, the design of self-assembled structure provides significant advantages, but it still exists some restrictive arising from the instability, and encodes the entire mechanism for assembling spontaneously into the complex.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Young-Chul Lee
    • 1
  • Ju-Young Moon
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BioNano TechnologyGachon UniversitySeongnam-siRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.Department of Beauty Design ManagementHansung UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea

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