DNA is an attractive candidate for integration into nanoelectronics as a biological nanowire due to its linear geometry, definable base sequence, easy, inexpensive and non-toxic replication and self-assembling properties. Recently we discovered that by intercalating Ag+ in polycytosine-mismatch oligonucleotides, the resulting C-Ag+-C duplexes are able to conduct charge efficiently. To map the functionality and biostability of this system, we built and characterized internally-functionalized DNA nanowires through non-canonical, Ag+-mediated base pairing in duplexes containing cytosine-cytosine mismatches. We assessed the thermal and chemical stability of ion-coordinated duplexes in aqueous solutions and conclude that the C-Ag+-C bond forms DNA duplexes with replicable geometry, predictable thermodynamics, and tunable length. We demonstrated continuous ion chain formation in oligonucleotides of 11-50 nucleotides (nt), and enzyme ligation of mixed strands up to six times that length. This construction is feasible without detectable silver nanocluster contaminants. Functional gene parts for the synthesis of DNA- and RNA-based, C-Ag+-C duplexes in a cell-free system have been constructed in an Escherichia coli expression plasmid and added to the open-source BioBrick Registry, paving the way to realizing the promise of inexpensive industrial production. With appropriate design constraints, this conductive variant of DNA demonstrates promise for use in synthetic biological constructs as a dynamic nucleic acid component and contributes molecular electronic functionality to DNA that is not already found in nature. We propose a viable route to fabricating stable DNA nanowires in cell-free and synthetic biological systems for the production of self-assembling nanoelectronic architectures.
Journal: Scientific reports