Near-Infrared Photothermally Activated DNAzyme–Gold Nanoshells for Imaging Metal Ions in Living Cells

Wenjing Wang, Nitya Sai Reddy Satyavolu, Zhenkun Wu, Jian Rong Zhang, Jun Jie Zhu, Yi Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


DNAzymes have enjoyed success as metal ion sensors outside cells. Their susceptibility to metal-dependent cleavage during delivery into cells has limited their intracellular applications. To overcome this limitation, a near-infrared (NIR) photothermal activation method is presented for controlling DNAzyme activity in living cells. The system consists of a three-stranded DNAzyme precursor (TSDP), the hybridization of which prevents the DNAzyme from being active. After conjugating the TSDP onto gold nanoshells and upon NIR illumination, the increased temperature dehybridizes the TSDP to release the active DNAzyme, which then carries out metal-ion-dependent cleavage, resulting in releasing the cleaved product containing a fluorophore. Using this construct, detecting Zn2+ in living HeLa cells is demonstrated. This method has expanded the DNAzyme versatility for detecting metal ions in biological systems under NIR light that exhibits lower phototoxicity and higher tissue penetration ability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6798-6802
Number of pages5
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number24
StatePublished - Jun 6 2017


  • DNAzymes
  • HeLa cells
  • gold nanoshells
  • metal ions
  • photothermal activation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)


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