Rational design of supramolecular hemin/G-quadruplex-dopamine aptamer nucleoapzyme systems with superior catalytic performance

H.B. Albada, Eyal Golub, Itamar Willner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


The rational design of a set of hemin/G-quadruplex (hGQ)-dopamine binding aptamer (DBA) conjugates, acting as nucleoapzymes, is described. The nucleoapzyme constructs consist of a hGQ DNAzyme as a catalytic unit and DBA as a substrate binding unit that are brought into spatial proximity by a duplex scaffold composed of complementary oligonucleotide strands. When the hGQ unit is linked to the duplex scaffold via a single-strand DNA tether of variable length, the resulting nucleoapzymes reveal a moderate catalytic enhancement toward the H2O2-mediated oxidation of dopamine to aminochrome as compared to the process stimulated by the separated hGQ and DBA units (5-7 fold enhancement). This limited enhancement is attributed to inappropriate spatial positioning of the hGQ in respect to the dopamine binding site, and/or to the flexibility of the tether that links the hGQ catalytic site to the double-stranded scaffold. To solve this, rigidification of the hGQ/DBA conjugates by triplex oligonucleotide structures that anchor the hGQ to a duplex domain associated with the DBA units was achieved. By the sequential, programmed, triplex-controlled rigidification of the hGQ/DBA structure, a nucleoapzyme with superior catalytic activity toward the oxidation of dopamine to aminochrome is identified (30-fold catalytic enhancement). Molecular dynamics simulations reveal that in the resulting highly active rigidified nucleoapzyme structure, the hGQ catalytic site is positioned in spatial proximity to the opening of the DBA substrate binding site, thus rationalizing and supporting the enhanced catalytic functions of the system. Finally, the most active nucleoapzyme system was subjected to fuel- and anti-fuel strands that separate and re-assemble the nucleoapzyme structure, allowing "ON" and "OFF" switching of the nucleoapzyme catalytic functions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3092-3101
Number of pages10
JournalChemical Science
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2016

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