Near-infrared silver cluster optically signaling oligonucleotide hybridization and assembling two DNA hosts

ACS Citation

Petty, J. T.; Nicholson, D. A.; Sergev, O. O.; Graham, S. K. Near-infrared silver cluster optically signaling oligonucleotide hybridization and assembling two DNA hosts. Anal. Chem. 2014, 86, 9220-8.


Silver clusters with ~10 atoms form within DNA strands, and the conjugates are chemical sensors. The DNA host hybridizes with short oligonucleotides, and the cluster moieties optically respond to these analytes. Our studies focus on how the cluster adducts perturb the structure of their DNA hosts. Our sensor is comprised of an oligonucleotide with two components: a 5'-cluster domain that complexes silver clusters and a 3'-recognition site that hybridizes with a target oligonucleotide. The single-stranded sensor encapsulates an ~11 silver atom cluster with violet absorption at 400 nm and with minimal emission. The recognition site hybridizes with complementary oligonucleotides, and the violet cluster converts to an emissive near-infrared cluster with absorption at 730 nm. Our key finding is that the near-infrared cluster coordinates two of its hybridized hosts. The resulting tertiary structure was investigated using intermolecular and intramolecular variants of the same dimer. The intermolecular dimer assembles in concentrated (~5 μM) DNA solutions. Strand stoichiometries and orientations were chromatographically determined using thymine-modified complements that increase the overall conjugate size. The intramolecular dimer develops within a DNA scaffold that is founded on three linked duplexes. The high local cluster concentrations and relative strand arrangements again favor the antiparallel dimer for the near-infrared cluster. When the two monomeric DNA/violet cluster conjugates transform to one dimeric DNA/near-infrared conjugate, the DNA strands accumulate silver. We propose that these correlated changes in DNA structure and silver stoichiometry underlie the violet to near-infrared cluster transformation.

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Analytical Chemistry

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