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Sharpening the Thermal Release of DNA from Nanoparticles: Towards a Sequential Release Strategy



Unlike the sharp melting behavior of DNA-linked nanoparticle aggregates, the melting of DNA strands from individual gold nanoparticles is broad despite the high surface density of bound DNA. Here, it is demonstrated how sharpened melting can be achieved in colloidal nanoparticle systems using branched DNA–doubler structures hybridized with complementary DNA-doublers bound to the gold nanoparticle. Moreover, sharpened transitions are observed when DNA-doublers are hybridized with linear DNA-modified gold nanoparticles. This result suggests that the DNA density on nanoparticles is intrinsically great enough to form cooperative structures with the DNA-doublers. Finally, by introducing abasic destabilizing groups, the melting temperature of these DNA-doublers decreases without decreasing the sharpness. Consequently, by varying the temperature, two DNA-doublers with different stabilities dissociate sequentially from the gold nanoparticle surface, without overlapping and within a narrow temperature window. Owing to the excellent thermal selectivities exhibited by this system, the implementation of DNA-doublers in sequential photothermal therapies and with other nanomedicine delivery agents that rely on DNA dissociation as the mechanism of selective release is anticipated.