DNA-controlled dynamic colloidal nanoparticle systems for mediating cellular interaction

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Science  19 Feb 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6275, pp. 841-845
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad4925

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Dynamic DNA clustering of nanoparticles

The size and shape of nanoparticles can increase the cellular uptake and delivery of contrast agents and therapeutics. Ohta et al. created gold nanoparticles partly covered with DNA chains and with folic acid as the targeting molecule (see the Perspective by Parak). The particles could link together to hide the folic acid or to expose it on the surface, depending on the hybridization and overall particle configuration. The addition of complementary DNA allowed switching between structures, thus changing the way the particles interacted with cells.

Science, this issue p. 841; see also p. 814


Precise control of biosystems requires development of materials that can dynamically change physicochemical properties. Inspired by the ability of proteins to alter their conformation to mediate function, we explored the use of DNA as molecular keys to assemble and transform colloidal nanoparticle systems. The systems consist of a core nanoparticle surrounded by small satellites, the conformation of which can be transformed in response to DNA via a toe-hold displacement mechanism. The conformational changes can alter the optical properties and biological interactions of the assembled nanosystem. Photoluminescent signal is altered by changes in fluorophore-modified particle distance, whereas cellular targeting efficiency is increased 2.5 times by changing the surface display of targeting ligands. These concepts provide strategies for engineering dynamic nanotechnology systems for navigating complex biological environments.

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