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A last-in first-out stack data structure implemented in DNA

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Annunziata Lopiccolo, Dr Benjamin Shirt-Ediss, Dr Emanuela Torelli, Dr Harold Fellermann, Professor Natalio KrasnogorORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2021, The Author(s).DNA-based memory systems are being reported with increasing frequency. However, dynamic DNA data structures able to store and recall information in an ordered way, and able to be interfaced with external nucleic acid computing circuits, have so far received little attention. Here we present an in vitro implementation of a stack data structure using DNA polymers. The stack is able to record combinations of two different DNA signals, release the signals into solution in reverse order, and then re-record. We explore the accuracy limits of the stack data structure through a stochastic rule-based model of the underlying polymerisation chemistry. We derive how the performance of the stack increases with the efficiency of washing steps between successive reaction stages, and report how stack performance depends on the history of stack operations under inefficient washing. Finally, we discuss refinements to improve molecular synchronisation and future open problems in implementing an autonomous chemical data structure.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Lopiccolo A, Shirt-Ediss B, Torelli E, Olulana AFA, Castronovo M, Fellermann H, Krasnogor N

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Nature Communications

Year: 2021

Volume: 12

Issue: 1

Print publication date: 01/12/2021

Online publication date: 11/08/2021

Acceptance date: 08/07/2021

Date deposited: 23/08/2021

ISSN (electronic): 2041-1723

Publisher: Nature Research


DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-25023-6


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Funder referenceFunder name
EPSRC Grant EP/N031962/1 and a Royal Academy of Engineering Chair in Emerging Technologies (to N.K.).