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Programmable self-assembly of metal ions inside artificial DNA duplexes

An Erratum to this article was published on 05 December 2006


The ultimate bottom-up approach for the construction of functional nanosystems requires the precise arrangement of atoms and molecules in three dimensions. DNA is currently one of the most prominent molecules able to self-assemble into complex networks1,2 and is therefore regarded as the ‘silicon of the nano-world’3. Metals and metal ions, in contrast, are the atomic building-blocks needed in such materials to establish functions such as electrical conductivity or magnetism. Here we report a new concept, which efficiently combines metal ions and DNA. The DNA structure is used as a matrix to program robustly the complexation of different metal ions under precise control with regard to element, number and composition.

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Figure 1
Figure 2: Assembly of Cu2+ and Hg2+ ions through duplex formation of d(5′-GHPHC-3′).
Figure 3: Schematic representation of the use of a combination of salicylic aldehyde-salicylic aldehyde (S–S) and thymine-thymine (T–T) mismatches for the assembly of a heterogeneous metal stack consisting of S–Cu2+(en)–S and T–Hg2+–T base pairs.
Figure 4: Assembly of Cu2+ and Hg2+ ions into duplex d(5′-CGGCCTSSSSTTTTSCGCGC-3′)·d(3′-GCCGGTSSSSTTTTSGCGCG-5′).


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This work was partially supported by Grant-in-Aids for Young Scientists (A) to K.T., Priority Area to K.T. and M.S., Scientific Research (S) to M.S., and the 21st Century COE Program for Frontiers in Fundamental Chemistry to M.S. from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (Japan), The Toray Science Foundation to K.T. and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) to T.C., as well as the Volkswagen Foundation. G.H.C. acknowledges the Funds of the German Chemical Industry for a pre-doctoral Fellowship.

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K.T., G.H.C., M.S. and T.C. planned the project and analyzed the experimental data. K.T., Y.T., Y.Y. performed the experiments on the duplexes containing the hydroxypyridone ligands and G.H.C. and K.C. performed the experiments on the duplexes containing the salen ligand.

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Correspondence to Mitsuhiko Shionoya or Thomas Carell.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Tanaka, K., Clever, G., Takezawa, Y. et al. Programmable self-assembly of metal ions inside artificial DNA duplexes. Nature Nanotech 1, 190–194 (2006).

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