Functionally-interdependent shape-switching nanoparticles with controllable properties

Nucleic Acids Res. 2017 Feb 28;45(4):2210-2220. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkx008.


We introduce a new concept that utilizes cognate nucleic acid nanoparticles which are fully complementary and functionally-interdependent to each other. In the described approach, the physical interaction between sets of designed nanoparticles initiates a rapid isothermal shape change which triggers the activation of multiple functionalities and biological pathways including transcription, energy transfer, functional aptamers and RNA interference. The individual nanoparticles are not active and have controllable kinetics of re-association and fine-tunable chemical and thermodynamic stabilities. Computational algorithms were developed to accurately predict melting temperatures of nanoparticles of various compositions and trace the process of their re-association in silico. Additionally, tunable immunostimulatory properties of described nanoparticles suggest that the particles that do not induce pro-inflammatory cytokines and high levels of interferons can be used as scaffolds to carry therapeutic oligonucleotides, while particles with strong interferon and mild pro-inflammatory cytokine induction may qualify as vaccine adjuvants. The presented concept provides a simple, cost-effective and straightforward model for the development of combinatorial regulation of biological processes in nucleic acid nanotechnology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Aptamers, Nucleotide
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • DNA / chemistry
  • DNA / genetics
  • DNA / immunology
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / metabolism
  • Microscopy, Atomic Force
  • Models, Molecular
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Nanotechnology
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Nucleic Acids / chemistry*
  • Nucleic Acids / genetics
  • Nucleic Acids / immunology
  • Oligonucleotides / chemistry
  • Oligonucleotides / immunology
  • RNA / chemistry
  • RNA / genetics
  • RNA / immunology
  • RNA Interference
  • Thermodynamics
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Transfection


  • Aptamers, Nucleotide
  • Cytokines
  • Nucleic Acids
  • Oligonucleotides
  • RNA
  • DNA