Metallic nanoparticles used to estimate the structural integrity of DNA motifs

Jiwen Zheng, Philip S. Lukeman, William B. Sherman, Christine Micheel, A. Paul Alivisatos, Pamela E. Constantinou, Nadrian C. Seeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Branched DNA motifs can be designed to assume a variety of shapes and structures. These structures can be characterized by numerous solution techniques; the structures also can be inferred from atomic force microscopy of two-dimensional periodic arrays that the motifs form via cohesive interactions. Examples of these motifs are the DNA parallelogram, the bulged-junction DNA triangle, and the three-dimensional-double crossover (3D-DX) DNA triangle. The ability of these motifs to withstand stresses without changing geometrical structure is clearly of interest if the motif is to be used in nanomechanical devices or to organize other large chemical species. Metallic nanoparticles can be attached to DNA motifs, and the arrangement of these particles can be established by transmission electron microscopy. We have attached 5 nm or 10 nm gold nanoparticles to every vertex of DNA parallelograms, to two or three vertices of 3D-DX DNA triangle motifs, and to every vertex of bulged-junction DNA triangles. We demonstrate by transmission electron microscopy that the DNA parallelogram motif and the bulged-junction DNA triangle are deformed by the presence of the gold nanoparticles, whereas the structure of the 3D-DX DNA triangle motif appears to be minimally distorted. This method provides a way to estimate the robustness and potential utility of the many new DNA motifs that are becoming available.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3340-3348
Number of pages9
JournalBiophysical journal
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 1 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics


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