Over the past 35 years, DNA has been used to produce various nanometer-scale constructs, nanomechanical devices, and walkers. Construction of complex DNA nanostructures relies on the creation of rigid DNA motifs. Paranemic crossover (PX) DNA is one such motif that has played many roles in DNA nanotechnology. Specifically, PX cohesion has been used to connect topologically closed molecules, to assemble a three-dimensional object, and to create two-dimensional DNA crystals. Additionally, a sequence-dependent nanodevice based on conformational change between PX and its topoisomer, JX2, has been used in robust nanoscale assembly lines, as a key component in a DNA transducer, and to dictate polymer assembly. Furthermore, the PX motif has recently found a new role directly in basic biology, by possibly serving as the molecular structure for double-stranded DNA homology recognition, a prominent feature of molecular biology and essential for many crucial biological processes. This review discusses the many attributes and usages of PX-DNA-its design, characteristics, applications, and potential biological relevance-and aims to accelerate the understanding of PX-DNA motif in its many roles and manifestations.
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