Published on Wed Aug 11 2021

Using ultraviolet absorption spectroscopy to study nanoswitches based on non-canonical DNA structures

McCarte, B., Yeung, O. T., Speakman, A. J., Elfick, A., Dunn, K. E.

Non-canonical forms of DNA are attracting increasing interest for applications in nanotechnology. The wrong choice of sequence for the linker between G-tracts could dramatically disrupt folding. The UV spectrum showed a small change in absorbance when a triplex was formed.

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Abstract

Non-canonical forms of DNA are attracting increasing interest for applications in nanotechnology. It is frequently convenient to characterize DNA molecules using a label-free approach such as UV absorption spectroscopy. In this paper we present the results of our investigation into the use of this technique to probe the folding of quadruplex and triplex nanoswitches. We confirmed that four G-quartets were necessary for folding at sub-mM concentrations of potassium and found that the wrong choice of sequence for the linker between G-tracts could dramatically disrupt folding, presumably due to the presence of kinetic traps in the folding landscape. In the case of the triplex nanoswitch we examined, we found that the UV spectrum showed a small change in absorbance when a triplex was formed. We anticipate that our results will be of interest to researchers seeking to design DNA nanoswitches based on quadruplexes and triplexes.