DNA physical hydrogels are three-dimensional network systems formed mainly through cross-linking of physical interactions between DNA building blocks. These physical interactions mainly include hydrogen bonding, electrostatic interactions, coordination interactions, physical entanglement and non-covalent bonding such as π-π stacking interactions. By cross-linking the complementary DNA molecules, highly structured network structures can be obtained, and the resulting hydrogel structures are able to swell and expand upon dissolution when exposed to water. These materials can be loaded not only with other types of nucleic acid molecules (e.g. siRNA and miRNA) but also with drugs that can bind to DNA. These hydrogels are highly soluble, biocompatible, functional and responsive. In addition, these hydrogels can be labeled with appropriate fluorescent molecules to indicate biological studies in vitro.
CD Formulation provides professional DNA hydrogel development services, including full and hybrid hydrogel design services.
Fig.1 Characterization of DNA hydrogels. (Wang et al., 2022)
DNA hydrogels are a new class of visualization platforms based on the DNA base complementary pairing principle and nucleic acid aptamer-target molecule interactions using nucleic acid aptamers as specific detection elements. The reversibility of conformational changes between DNAs enables the reversible regulation of the hydrogel solution state and gel state. DNA hydrogels are ideal carriers for drug release and substance detection due to their good biocompatibility.
While a wide variety of hydrogel materials are available for a wide range of applications, CD Formulation utilizes DNA to fabricate hydrogels that utilize both the skeletal function of hydrogels and the biological function of DNA, achieving a unified fusion of structure and function of hydrogel materials.
Using pre-designed branching DNA building blocks to associate with other complementary strands, gelation of DNA building blocks can be achieved by hybridization of DNA sticky ends, formation of i-motifs or enzymatic ligation. This type of hydrogel can also be generated in the process of forming the building block in situ by enzymatic polymerization.
Hybrid DNA-polymer hydrogels take advantage of the programmable and intelligent properties of DNA components and the chemical stability, flexibility and accessibility of polymers. Branched DNA as a structural component allows for both gelation and functionalization of the hydrogel. While these DNA linkages typically exhibit multi-responsive and thixotropic behavior in the presence of heat or enzymes, their adducts, such as azobenzene-functionalized linkages, can exhibit photoresponsiveness under alternating visible and UV light irradiation, inducing macroscopic volume changes in hydrogels.DNA fragments have also been explored as functional, bioactive elements to modify hydrogels for various biomedical applications. The presence of DNA as a bioactive moiety in these hydrogels usually confers specific interactions with biomolecules or cells without significantly altering the mechanical properties of the hydrogel.
DNA hydrogels are pioneers and outstanding representatives of DNA nanotechnology in practical applications.
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