What Controls the Hybridization Thermodynamics of Spherical Nucleic Acids?

Pratik S. Randeria, Matthew R. Jones, Kevin L. Kohlstedt, Resham J. Banga, Monica Olvera De La Cruz, George C. Schatz, Chad A. Mirkin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


The hybridization of free oligonucleotides to densely packed, oriented arrays of DNA modifying the surfaces of spherical nucleic acid (SNA)-gold nanoparticle conjugates occurs with negative cooperativity; i.e., each binding event destabilizes subsequent binding events. DNA hybridization is thus an ever-changing function of the number of strands already hybridized to the particle. Thermodynamic quantification of this behavior reveals a 3 orders of magnitude decrease in the binding constant for the capture of a free oligonucleotide by an SNA conjugate as the fraction of pre-hybridized strands increases from 0 to ∼30%. Increasing the number of pre-hybridized strands imparts an increasing enthalpic penalty to hybridization that makes binding more difficult, while simultaneously decreasing the entropic penalty to hybridization, which makes binding more favorable. Hybridization of free DNA to an SNA is thus governed by both an electrostatic barrier as the SNA accumulates charge with additional binding events and an effect consistent with allostery, where hybridization at certain sites on an SNA modify the binding affinity at a distal site through conformational changes to the remaining single strands. Leveraging these insights allows for the design of conjugates that hybridize free strands with significantly higher efficiencies, some of which approach 100%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3486-3489
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number10
StatePublished - Mar 18 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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