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pH‐Responsive and Reversible A‐Motif‐Based DNA Hydrogel: Synthesis and Biosensing Application

Von Wiley-VCH zur Verfügung gestellt

Poly-dA can form noncanonical duplexes at acidic pH. DNA three-way junctions with poly-dA stretches can form supramolecular hydrogels under acidic conditions thereby providing a pH-responsive, reversible DNA hydrogel that can be used for sensing foreign nucleic acid strands.


Functional DNA hydrogels with various motifs and functional groups require perfect sequence design to avoid cross-bonding interference with themselves or other structural sequences. This work reports an A-motif functional DNA hydrogel that does not require any sequence design. A-motif DNA is a noncanonical parallel DNA duplex structure containing homopolymeric deoxyadenosines (poly-dA) strands that undergo conformation changes from single strands at neutral pH to a parallel duplex DNA helix at acidic pH. Despite this and other advantages over other DNA motifs like no cross-bonding interference with other structural sequences, the A-motif has not been explored much. We successfully synthesized a DNA hydrogel by using an A-motif as a reversible handle to polymerize a DNA three-way junction. The A-motif hydrogel was initially characterized by electrophoretic mobility shift assay, and dynamic light scattering, which showed the formation of higher-order structures. Further, we used imaging techniques like atomic force microscopy and scanning electron microscope to validating its hydrogel like highly branched morphology. pH-induced conformation transformation from monomers to gel is quick and reversible, and was analysed for multiple acid-base cycles. The sol-to-gel transitions and gelation properties were further examined in rheological studies. The use of the A-motif hydrogel in the visual detection of pathogenic target nucleic acid sequence was demonstrated for the first time in a capillary assay. Moreover, pH-induced hydrogel formation was observed in situ as a layer over the mammalian cells. The proposed A-motif DNA scaffold has enormous potential in designing stimuli-responsive nanostructures that can be used for many biological applications.

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