Integration of chemically modified nucleotides with DNA strand displacement reactions for applications in living systems. Academic Article uri icon


  • Watson-Crick base pairing rules provide a powerful approach for engineering DNA-based nanodevices with programmable and predictable behaviors. In particular, DNA strand displacement reactions have enabled the development of an impressive repertoire of molecular devices with complex functionalities. By relying on DNA to function, dynamic strand displacement devices represent powerful tools for the interrogation and manipulation of biological systems. Yet, implementation in living systems has been a slow process due to several persistent challenges, including nuclease degradation. To circumvent these issues, researchers are increasingly turning to chemically modified nucleotides as a means to increase device performance and reliability within harsh biological environments. In this review, we summarize recent progress toward the integration of chemically modified nucleotides with DNA strand displacement reactions, highlighting key successes in the development of robust systems and devices that operate in living cells and in vivo. We discuss the advantages and disadvantages of commonly employed modifications as they pertain to DNA strand displacement, as well as considerations that must be taken into account when applying modified oligonucleotide to living cells. Finally, we explore how chemically modified nucleotides fit into the broader goal of bringing dynamic DNA nanotechnology into the cell, and the challenges that remain. This article is categorized under: Diagnostic Tools > In Vivo Nanodiagnostics and Imaging Nanotechnology Approaches to Biology > Nanoscale Systems in Biology Diagnostic Tools > Biosensing.

published proceedings

  • Wiley Interdiscip Rev Nanomed Nanobiotechnol

altmetric score

  • 1.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Kabza, A. M., Kundu, N., Zhong, W., & Sczepanski, J. T.

citation count

  • 5

complete list of authors

  • Kabza, Adam M||Kundu, Nandini||Zhong, Wenrui||Sczepanski, Jonathan T

publication date

  • January 2022