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Nanophotonics

Highly-selective FRET based sensing

DNA origami nanostructures are a versatile tool that can be used to arrange functionalities with high local control to study molecular processes at a single-molecule level. They can be used to suppress the formation of specific guanine (G) quadruplex structures from telomeric DNA. The folding of telomeres into G-quadruplex structures in the presence of monovalent cations (e.g. Na+ and K+) is currently used for the detection of K+ ions, however, with insufficient selectivity towards Na+. By means of FRET between two suitable dyes attached to the 3'- and 5'-ends of telomeric DNA we demonstrate that the formation of G-quadruplexes on DNA origami templates in the presence of sodium ions is suppressed due to steric hindrance. Hence, telomeric DNA attached to DNA origami structures represents a highly sensitive and selective detection tool for potassium ions even in the presence of high concentrations of sodium ions.

L. Olejko, P. Cywinski, I. Bald, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2015, 54, 673.

Switchable photonic wires

The folding of single-stranded telomeric DNA into guanine (G) quadruplexes is a conformational change that plays a major role in sensing and drug targeting. The telomeric DNA can be placed on DNA origami nanostructures to make the folding process extremely selective for K+ ions even in the presence of high Na+ concentrations. Here, we demonstrate that the K+-selective G-quadruplex formation is reversible when using a cryptand to remove K+ from the G-quadruplex. We present a full characterization of the reversible switching between single-stranded telomeric DNA and G-quadruplex structures using Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) between the dyes fluorescein (FAM) and cyanine3 (Cy3). When attached to the DNA origami platform, the G-quadruplex switch can be incorporated into more complex photonic networks, which is demonstrated for a three-color and a four-color FRET cascade from FAM over Cy3 and Cy5 to IRDye700 with G-quadruplex-Cy3 acting as a switchable transmitter.

L. Olejko, P. J. Cywiński, I. Bald, Nanoscale 20168, 10339.