DNA branched junctions have been constructed that contain either five arms or six arms surrounding a branch point. These junctions are not as stable as junctions containing three or four arms; unlike the smaller junctions, they cannot be shown to migrate as a single band on native gels when each of their arms contains eight nucleotide pairs. However, they can be stabilized if their arms contain 16 nucleotide pairs. Ferguson analysis of these junctions in combination with three-arm and four-arm junctions indicates a linear increase in friction constant as the number of arms increases, with the four-arm junction migrating anomalously. The five-arm junction does not appear to have any unusual stacking structure, and all strands show similar responses to hydroxyl radical autofootprinting analysis. By contrast, one strand of the six-arm junction shows virtually no protection from hydroxyl radicals, suggesting that it is the helical strand of a preferred stacking domain. Both junctions are susceptible to digestion by T4 endonuclease VII, which resolves Holliday junctions. However, the putative helical strand of the six-arm junction shows markedly reduced cleavage, supporting the notion that its structure is largely found in a helical conformation. Branched DNA molecules can be assembled into structures whose helix axes form multiply connected objects and networks. The ability to construct five-arm and six-arm junctions vastly increases the number of structures and networks that can be built from branched DNA components. Icosahedral deltahedra and 11 networks with 432 symmetry, constructed from Platonic and Archimedean solids, are among the structures whose construction is feasible, now that these junctions can be made.
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