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Chem Soc Rev. 2014 May 21;43(10):3324-41. doi: 10.1039/c3cs60439j. Epub 2014 Mar 18.

Rolling circle amplification: a versatile tool for chemical biology, materials science and medicine.

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  • 1Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Chao and Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center, Edwards Lifesciences Center for Advanced Cardiovascular Technology, Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697, USA.


Rolling circle amplification (RCA) is an isothermal enzymatic process where a short DNA or RNA primer is amplified to form a long single stranded DNA or RNA using a circular DNA template and special DNA or RNA polymerases. The RCA product is a concatemer containing tens to hundreds of tandem repeats that are complementary to the circular template. The power, simplicity, and versatility of the DNA amplification technique have made it an attractive tool for biomedical research and nanobiotechnology. Traditionally, RCA has been used to develop sensitive diagnostic methods for a variety of targets including nucleic acids (DNA, RNA), small molecules, proteins, and cells. RCA has also attracted significant attention in the field of nanotechnology and nanobiotechnology. The RCA-produced long, single-stranded DNA with repeating units has been used as template for the periodic assembly of nanospecies. Moreover, since RCA products can be tailor-designed by manipulating the circular template, RCA has been employed to generate complex DNA nanostructures such as DNA origami, nanotubes, nanoribbons and DNA based metamaterials. These functional RCA based nanotechnologies have been utilized for biodetection, drug delivery, designing bioelectronic circuits and bioseparation. In this review, we introduce the fundamental engineering principles used to design RCA nanotechnologies, discuss recently developed RCA-based diagnostics and bioanalytical tools, and summarize the use of RCA to construct multivalent molecular scaffolds and nanostructures for applications in biology, diagnostics and therapeutics.

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