All chapters


pH Sensitive DNA Devices

The physicochemical properties of small molecules as well as macromolecules are modulated by solution pH, and DNA is no exception. Special sequences of DNA can adopt unusual conformations e.g., triplex, i-motif and A-motif, depending on solution pH. The specific range of pH for these unusual structures is dictated by the pKa of protonation of the relevant nucleobase involved in the resultant non-canonical base pairing that is required to stabilise the structure. The biological significance of these pH-dependent structures is not yet clear. However, these non-B-DNA structures have been used to design different devices to direct chemical reactions, generate mechanical force, sense pH, etc. The performance of these devices can be monitored by a photonic signal. They are autonomous and their ‘waste free’ operation cycles makes them highly processive. Applications of these devices help to increase understanding of the structural polymorphism of the motifs themselves. The design of these devices has continuously evolved to improve their performance efficiency in different contexts. In some examples, these devices have been shown to perform inside complex living systems with similar efficiencies, to report on the chemical environment there. The robust performance of these devices opens up exciting possibilities for pH-sensitive DNA devices in the study of various pH-regulated biological events.

Publication details

Print publication date
18 Oct 2012
Copyright year
Print ISBN

From the book series:
RSC Biomolecular Sciences