Synthesis and Direct Observation of Thermoresponsive DNA Copolymers

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Single-molecule techniques allow for the direct observation of long-chain macromolecules, and these methods can provide a molecular understanding of chemically heterogeneous and stimuli-response polymers. In this work, we report the synthesis and direct observation of thermoresponsive DNA copolymers using single-molecule techniques. DNA-PNIPAM copolymers are synthesized using a two-step strategy based on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for generating linear DNA backbones containing non-natural nucleotides (dibenzocyclooctyne-dUTP), followed by grafting thermoresponsive side branches (poly(N-isopropylacrylamide), PNIPAM) onto DNA backbones using copper-free click chemistry. Single-molecule fluorescence microscopy is used to directly observe the stretching and relaxation dynamics of DNA-PNIPAM copolymers both below and above the lower critical solution temperature (LCST) of PNIPAM. Our results show that the intramolecular conformational dynamics of DNA-PNIPAM copolymers are affected by temperature, branch density, and branch molecular weight. Single-molecule experiments reveal an underlying molecular heterogeneity associated with polymer stretching and relaxation behavior, which arises in part due to heterogeneous chemical identity on DNA copolymer dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)281-286
Number of pages6
JournalACS Macro Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 20 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry


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