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All-in-One Synchronized DNA Nanodevices Facilitating Multiplexed Cell Imaging

Xue, Jing, Chen, Feng, Bai, Min, Cao, Xiaowen, Huang, Ping, Zhao, Yongxi
Analytical chemistry 2019 v.91 no.7 pp. 4696-4701
DNA, RNA, biomarkers, cellular microenvironment, cytoplasm, endocytosis, image analysis, intracellular enzymes, nanogold, proteins, telomerase
Multifunctional DNA nanodevices perform ever more tasks with applications ranging from in vitro biomarker detection to in situ cell imaging. However, most developed ones consist of a series of split building blocks, which suffer from asynchronous behaviors in complicated cellular microenvironments (endocytosis pathway, diffusion-limited cytoplasm, etc.), causing the loss of stoichiometric information and additional postassembly processes. Herein, we constructed all-in-one DNA nanodevices to achieve synchronous multiplexed imaging. All DNA components, including two sets of probe modules (each containing target-specific walkers, i.e., hairpin tracks with chemically damaged bases), are modified on individual gold nanoparticles. This design not only enables their integrated internalization into cells, circumventing inhomogeneous distribution of different building blocks and increasing the local concentrations of the interacting modules, but also avoids the impact of stochastic diffusion in viscous cytoplasm. A couple of intracellular enzymes in situ actuate the synchronized motion of the modules, all on-particle, after specific recognition of intracellular targets (such as RNAs and proteins), thus facilitating synchronized, multiplexed cell imaging. Finally, the proposed all-in-one nanodevices were successfully applied to monitor intracellular microRNA-21 and telomerase expression levels. The flexible design can be extended to detect other cytoplasmic molecules and monitor related pathways by simply changing the sequences.