Optical sensing by transforming chromophoric silver clusters in DNA nanoreactors

ACS Citation

Petty, J. T.; Story, S. P.; Juarez, S.; Votto, S. S.; Herbst, A. G.; Degtyareva, N. N.; Sengupta, B. Optical sensing by transforming chromophoric silver clusters in DNA nanoreactors. Anal. Chem. 2012, 84, 356-64.


Bifunctional DNA oligonucleotides serve as templates for chromophoric silver clusters and as recognition sites for target DNA strands, and communication between these two components is the basis of an oligonucleotide sensor. Few-atom silver clusters exhibit distinct electronic spectra spanning the visible and near-infrared region, and they are selectively synthesized by varying the base sequence of the DNA template. In these studies, a 16-base cluster template is adjoined with a 12-base sequence complementary to the target analyte, and hybridization induces structural changes in the composite sensor that direct the conversion between two spectrally and stoichiometrically distinct clusters. Without its complement, the sensor strand selectively harbors ~7 Ag atoms that absorb at 400 nm and fold the DNA host. Upon association of the target with its recognition site, the sensor strand opens to expose the cluster template that has the binding site for ~11 Ag atoms, and absorption at 720 nm with relatively strong emission develops in lieu of the violet absorption. Variations in the length and composition of the recognition site and the cluster template indicate that these types of dual-component sensors provide a general platform for near-infrared-based detection of oligonucleotides in challenging biological environments.

Source Name

Analytical Chemistry

Publication Date








Document Type


Citation Type