Research & Teaching Faculty

Engineering Aptamer Switches for Multifunctional Stimulus-Responsive Nanosystems

TitleEngineering Aptamer Switches for Multifunctional Stimulus-Responsive Nanosystems
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsRangel, AE, Hariri, AA, Eiseintein, M, Soh, HT

Although RNA and DNA are best known for their capacity to encode biological information, it has become increasingly clear over the past few decades that these biomolecules are also capable of performing other complex functions, such as molecular recognition (e.g., aptamers) and catalysis (e.g., ribozymes). Building on these foundations, researchers have begun to exploit the predictable base-pairing properties of RNA and DNA in order to utilize nucleic acids as functional materials that can undergo a molecular “switching” process, performing complex functions such as signaling or controlled payload release in response to external stimuli including light, pH, ligand-binding and other microenvironmental cues. Although this field is still in its infancy, these efforts offer exciting potential for the development of biologically based “smart materials”. Herein, ongoing progress in the use of nucleic acids as an externally controllable switching material is reviewed. The diverse range of mechanisms that can trigger a stimulus response, and strategies for engineering those functionalities into nucleic acid materials are explored. Finally, recent progress is discussed in incorporating aptamer switches into more complex synthetic nucleic acid-based nanostructures and functionalized smart materials.