A General DNA-Gated Hydrogel Strategy for Selective Transport of Chemical and Biological Cargos

Yuwei Gu, Max E. Distler, Ho Fung Cheng, Chi Huang, Chad A. Mirkin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The selective transport of molecular cargo is critical in many biological and chemical/materials processes and applications. Although nature has evolved highly efficient in vivo biological transport systems, synthetic transport systems are often limited by the challenges associated with fine-tuning interactions between cargo and synthetic or natural transport barriers. Herein, deliberately designed DNA-DNA interactions are explored as a new modality for selective DNA-modified cargo transport through DNA-grafted hydrogel supports. The chemical and physical characteristics of the cargo and hydrogel barrier, including the number of nucleic acid strands on the cargo (i.e., the cargo valency) and DNA-DNA binding strength, can be used to regulate the efficiency of cargo transport. Regimes exist where a cargo-barrier interaction is attractive enough to yield high selectivity yet high mobility, while there are others where the attractive interactions are too strong to allow mobility. These observations led to the design of a DNA-dendron transport tag, which can be used to universally modify macromolecular cargo so that the barrier can differentiate specific species to be transported. These novel transport systems that leverage DNA-DNA interactions provide new chemical insights into the factors that control selective cargo mobility in hydrogels and open the door to designing a wide variety of drug/probe-delivery systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17200-17208
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number41
StatePublished - Oct 20 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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