ACS nano

Nature-inspired DNA nanosensor for real-time in situ detection of mRNA in living cells.

PMID 25906327


Rapid and precise in situ detection of gene expressions within a single cell is highly informative and offers valuable insights into its state. Detecting mRNA within single cells in real time and nondestructively remains an important challenge. Using DNA nanotechnology and inspired by nature's many examples of "protective-yet-accessible" exoskeletons, we designed our mRNA nanosensor, nano-snail-inspired nucleic acid locator (nano-SNEL), to illustrate these elements. The design of the nano-SNEL is composed of a sensory molecular beacon module to detect mRNA and a DNA nanoshell component, mimicking the functional anatomy of a snail. Accurate and sensitive visualization of mRNA is achieved by the exceptional protection conferred by the nanoshell to the sensory component from nucleases-mediated degradation by approximately 9-25-fold compared to its unprotected counterpart. Our nano-SNEL design strategy improved cell internalization is a demonstration of accurate, dynamic spatiotemporal resolved detection of RNA transcripts in living cells.