Functional nucleic acid entrapment in sol–gel derived materials
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Functional nucleic acids (FNAs) are single-stranded DNA or RNA molecules, typically generated through in vitro selection, that have the ability to act as receptors for target molecules (aptamers) or perform catalysis of a chemical reaction (deoxyribozymes and ribozymes). Fluorescence-signaling aptamers and deoxyribozymes have recently emerged as promising biological recognition and signaling elements, although little has been done to evaluate their potential for solid-phase assays, particularly with species made of RNA due to their lack of chemical stability and susceptibility to nuclease attack. Herein, we present a detailed overview of the methods utilized for solid-phase immobilization of FNAs using a sol-gel entrapment method that can provide protection from nuclease degradation and impart long-term chemical stability to the FNA reporter systems, while maintaining their signaling capabilities. This article will also provide a brief review of the results of such entrapment studies involving fluorescence-signaling versions of a DNA aptamer, selected RNA-cleaving deoxyribozymes, and two different RNA aptamers in a series of sol-gel derived composites, ranging from highly polar silica to hydrophobic methylsilsesquioxane-based materials. Given the ability to produce sol-gel derived materials in a variety of configurations, particularly as thin film coatings on electrodes, optical fibers, and other devices, this entrapment method should provide a useful platform for numerous solid-phase FNA-based biosensing applications.
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