An interparticle relatively motional DNA walker and its sensing application†
DNA molecular machines are DNA self-assemblies that perform quasi-mechanical movement at the micro–nano scale, and have attracted increasing attention in the fields of biosensing, drug delivery and biocomputing. Herein, we report the concept and operation of an interparticle relatively motional DNA walker. The walker is composed of walking particles (WPs) and track particles (TPs). The WPs and TPs are obtained by respective functionalization of locked walking strands containing DNAzyme sequences and fluorophore-labelled track strands containing substrate sequences onto gold nanoparticles (AuNPs). Triggered by the target that specifically unlocks the walking strand, the liberated walking strands cooperatively hybridize with the track strands. The track strand gets cleaved by the DNAzyme, accompanied by the fluorophore release. The adjacent walking strand on the WP subsequently hybridizes to the next track strand, inducing the relative motion of the WP around the TP. After walking along the surface of one TP, the WP can continue to interact with another TP. As a result of the improved moving freedom and area, the interparticle motional mode induces high continuity and achieves large signal accumulation. Taking Zika virus RNA fragments (ZIKV-RNA) as a model target, the DNA walker shows a high sensitivity with a detection limit of 118 pM, and can reliably detect the target in biological fluids due to the stability of its components. The constructed DNA walker provides a new type of free and robust motion mode between particles and holds potential in clinical diagnosis.