Topological barriers control in nature the transcription machinery, thereby perturbing gene expression. Here we introduce synthetically designed DNA templates that include built-in topological barriers for switchable, triggered-controlled transcription of RNA aptamers. This is exemplified with the design of transcription templates that include reversible and switchable topological barriers consisting of a Sr2+-ion-stabilized G-quadruplex and its separation by kryptofix [2.2.2], KP, for the switchable transcription of the malachite green (MG) RNA aptamer, the T-A·T triplex barrier being separated by a fuel-strand for the cyclic triggered transcription of the 3,5-difluoro-4-hydroxybenzylidene imidazolinone (DFHBI)-binding aptamer, and the use of a photoactivated cis/trans azobenzene-modified nucleic acid barrier for the switchable “ON”/“OFF” transcription of the MG RNA aptamer. By applying a mixture of topologically triggered templates consisting of the photoresponsive barrier and the T-A·T triplex barrier, the gated transcription of the MG aptamer or the DFHBI-binding aptamer is demonstrated. In addition, a Sr2+-ion/KP topologically triggered DNA tetrahedra promoter-transcription scaffold, for the replication of the MG RNA aptamer, and T7 RNA polymerase are integrated into DNA-based carboxymethyl cellulose hydrogel microcapsules acting as cell-like assemblies. The switchable, reversible transcription of the MG RNA aptamer in a cell-like containment is introduced.
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