Performing DNA nanotechnology operations on a zebrafish

Chem Sci. 2018 Jul 20;9(36):7271-7276. doi: 10.1039/c8sc01771a. eCollection 2018 Sep 28.


Nanoscale engineering of surfaces is becoming an indispensable technique to modify membranes and, thus cellular behaviour. Here, such membrane engineering related was explored on the surface of a living animal using DNA nanotechnology. We demonstrate the immobilization of oligonucleotides functionalized with a membrane anchor on 2 day old zebrafish. The protruding single-stranded DNA on the skin of zebrafish served as a handle for complementary DNAs, which allowed the attachment of small molecule cargo, liposomes and dynamic relabeling by DNA hybridization protocols. Robust anchoring of the oligonucleotides was proven as DNA-based amplification processes were successfully performed on the outer membrane of the zebrafish enabling the multiplication of surface functionalities from a single DNA-anchoring unit and the dramatic improvement of fluorescent labeling of these animals. As zebrafish are becoming an alternative to animal models in drug development, toxicology and nanoparticles characterization, we believe the platform presented here allows amalgamation of DNA nanotechnology tools with live animals and this opens up yet unexplored avenues like efficient bio-barcoding as well as in vivo tracking.