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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Nanocrystal Bioassembly: Asymmetry, Proximity, and Enzymatic Manipulation

  • Author(s): Claridge, Shelley A
  • et al.

Research at the interface between biomolecules and inorganic nanocrystals has resulted in a great number of new discoveries. In part this arises from the synergistic duality of the system: biomolecules may act as self-assembly agents for organizing inorganic nanocrystals into functional materials; alternatively, nanocrystals may act as microscopic or spectroscopic labels for elucidating the behavior of complex biomolecular systems. However, success in either of these functions relies heavily upon the ability to control the conjugation and assembly processes. In the work presented here, we first design a branched DNA scaffold which allows hybridization of DNA-nanocrystal monoconjugates to form discrete assemblies. Importantly, the asymmetry of the branched scaffold allows the formation of asymmetric 2 assemblies of nanocrystals. In the context of a self-assembled device, this can be considered a step toward the ability to engineer functionally distinct inputs and outputs. Next we develop an anion-exchange high performance liquid chromatography purification method which allows large gold nanocrystals attached to single strands of very short DNA to be purified. When two such complementary conjugates are hybridized, the large nanocrystals are brought into close proximity, allowing their plasmon resonances to couple. Such plasmon-coupled constructs are of interest both as optical interconnects for nanoscale devices and as `plasmon ruler? biomolecular probes. We then present an enzymatic ligation strategy for creating multi-nanoparticle building blocks for self-assembly. In constructing a nanoscale device, such a strategy would allow pre-assembly and purification of components; these constructs can also act as multi-label probes of single-stranded DNA conformational dynamics. Finally we demonstrate a simple proof-of-concept of a nanoparticle analog of the polymerase chain reaction.

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