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Fluorescence-tunable Ag-DNA biosensor with tailored cytotoxicity for live-cell applications

: Bossert, Nelli; Bruin, Donny de; Götz, Maria; Bouwmeester, Dirk; Heinrich, Doris

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Scientific Reports 6 (2016), Art. 37897, 8 S.
ISSN: 2045-2322
Zeitschriftenaufsatz, Elektronische Publikation
Fraunhofer ISC ()
Biosensor; Zytotoxizität; Zellen; Nanobiomaterial; Fluoreszenz

DNA-stabilized silver clusters (Ag-DNA) show excellent promise as a multi-functional nanoagent for molecular investigations in living cells. The unique properties of these fluorescent nanomaterials allow for intracellular optical sensors with tunable cytotoxicity based on simple modifications of the DNA sequences. Three Ag-DNA nanoagent designs are investigated, exhibiting optical responses to the intracellular environments and sensing-capability of ions, functional inside living cells. Their sequence-dependent fluorescence responses inside living cells include (1) a strong splitting of the fluorescence peak for a DNA hairpin construct, (2) an excitation and emission shift of up to 120 nm for a single-stranded DNA construct, and (3) a sequence robust in fluorescence properties. Additionally, the cytotoxicity of these Ag-DNA constructs is tunable, ranging from highly cytotoxic to biocompatible Ag-DNA, independent of their optical sensing capability. Thus, Ag-DNA represents a versatile live-cell nanoagent addressable towards anti-cancer, patient-specific and anti-bacterial applications.