Circular Nucleic Acids: Discovery, Functions and Applications
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Circular nucleic acids (CNAs) are nucleic acid molecules with a closed-loop structure. This feature comes with a number of advantages including complete resistance to exonuclease degradation, much better thermodynamic stability, and the capability of being replicated by a DNA polymerase in a rolling circle manner. Circular functional nucleic acids, CNAs containing at least a ribozyme/DNAzyme or a DNA/RNA aptamer, not only inherit the advantages of CNAs but also offer some unique application opportunities, such as the design of topology-controlled or enabled molecular devices. This article will begin by summarizing the discovery, biogenesis, and applications of naturally occurring CNAs, followed by discussing the methods for constructing artificial CNAs. The exploitation of circular functional nucleic acids for applications in nanodevice engineering, biosensing, and drug delivery will be reviewed next. Finally, the efforts to couple functional nucleic acids with rolling circle amplification for ultra-sensitive biosensing and for synthesizing multivalent molecular scaffolds for unique applications in biosensing and drug delivery will be recapitulated.
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