5 years ago

Metal Sensing by DNA

Metal Sensing by DNA
Runjhun Saran, Wenhu Zhou, Juewen Liu
Metal ions are essential to many chemical, biological, and environmental processes. In the past two decades, many DNA-based metal sensors have emerged. While the main biological role of DNA is to store genetic information, its chemical structure is ideal for metal binding via both the phosphate backbone and nucleobases. DNA is highly stable, cost-effective, easy to modify, and amenable to combinatorial selection. Two main classes of functional DNA were developed for metal sensing: aptamers and DNAzymes. While a few metal binding aptamers are known, it is generally quite difficult to isolate such aptamers. On the other hand, DNAzymes are powerful tools for metal sensing since they are selected based on catalytic activity, thus bypassing the need for metal immobilization. In the last five years, a new surge of development has been made on isolating new metal-sensing DNA sequences. To date, many important metals can be selectively detected by DNA often down to the low parts-per-billion level. Herein, each metal ion and the known DNA sequences for its sensing are reviewed. We focus on the fundamental aspect of metal binding, emphasizing the distinct chemical property of each metal. Instead of reviewing each published sensor, a high-level summary of signaling methods is made as a separate section. In principle, each signaling strategy can be applied to many DNA sequences for designing sensors. Finally, a few specific applications are highlighted, and future research opportunities are discussed.

Publisher URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.chemrev.7b00063

DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemrev.7b00063

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