Metal-nucleic acid cages

Nat Chem. 2009 Aug;1(5):390-6. doi: 10.1038/nchem.290. Epub 2009 Jul 24.


Metal-nucleic acid cages are a promising new class of materials. Like metallo-supramolecular cages, these systems can use their metals for redox, photochemical, magnetic and catalytic control over encapsulated cargo. However, using DNA provides the potential to program pore size, geometry, chemistry and addressability, and the ability to symmetrically and asymmetrically position transition metals within the three-dimensional framework. Here we report the quantitative construction of metal-DNA cages, with the site-specific incorporation of a range of metals within a three-dimensional DNA architecture. Oligonucleotide strands containing specific environments suitable for transition-metal coordination were first organized into two DNA triangles. These triangles were then assembled into a DNA prism with linking strands. Metal centres were subsequently incorporated into the prisms at the pre-programmed locations. This unprecedented ability to position transition metals within a three-dimensional framework could lead to metal-DNA hosts with applications for the encapsulation, sensing, modification and release of biomolecules and nanomaterials.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Binding Sites
  • DNA / chemistry*
  • DNA, Single-Stranded / chemistry
  • Metals / chemistry*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Substrate Specificity


  • DNA, Single-Stranded
  • Metals
  • DNA