Singlet Oxygen in DNA Nanotechnology

Tørring T, Helmig S, Ogilby PR, Gothelf KV.

Acc Chem Res. 2014 Jun 17;47(6):1799-806. doi: 10.1021/ar500034y. Epub 2014 Apr 7.

Center for DNA Nanotechnology (CDNA) at the Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center (iNANO) and Department of Chemistry, Aarhus University , DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark.

Abstract

CONSPECTUS: Singlet oxygen ((1)O2), the first excited electronic state of molecular oxygen, is a significant molecule, despite its minute size. For more than half a century, the molecule has been widely used and studied in organic synthesis, due to its characteristic oxygenation reactions. Furthermore, (1)O2 plays a key role in mechanisms of cell death, which has led to its use in therapies for several types of cancer and other diseases. The high abundance of oxygen in air provides a wonderful source of molecules that can be excited to the reactive singlet state, for example, by UV/vis irradiation of a photosensitizer molecule. Although convenient, this oxygen abundance also presents some challenges for purposes that require (1)O2 to be generated in a controlled manner. In the past decade, we and others have employed DNA nanostructures to selectively control and investigate the generation, lifetime, and reactions of (1)O2. DNA-based structures are one of the most powerful tools for controlling distances between molecules on the nanometer length scale, in particular for systems that closely resemble biological settings, due to their inherent ability to specifically form duplex structures with well-defined and predictable geometries. Here, we present some examples of how simple DNA structures can be employed to regulate (1)O2 production by controlling the behavior of (1)O2-producing photosensitizers through their interactions with independent quencher molecules. We have developed different DNA-based systems in which (1)O2 production can be switched ON or OFF in the presence of specific DNAsequences or by changing the pH of the solution. To further illustrate the interplay between DNA structures and (1)O2, we present three pieces of research, in which (1)O2 is used to activate or deactivate DNA-based systems based on the reaction between (1)O2 and cleavable linkers. In one example, it is demonstrated how a blocked oligonucleotide can be released upon irradiation with light of a specific wavelength. In more complex systems, DNA origami structures composed of more than 200 individual oligonucleotides were employed to study (1)O2 reactions in spatially resolved experiments on the nanoscale.

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