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ACS Nano. 2012 Sep 25;6(9):7770-80. Epub 2012 Aug 6.

Photonic gene circuits by optically addressable siRNA-Au nanoantennas.

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UCSF/UCB Joint Graduate Group in Bioengineering, Berkeley Sensor & Actuator Center, Department of Bioengineering, University of California-Berkeley, Berkeley, California, United States.


The precise perturbation of gene circuits and the direct observation of signaling pathways in living cells are essential for both fundamental biology and translational medicine. Current optogenetic technology offers a new paradigm of optical control for cells; however, this technology relies on permanent genomic modifications with light-responsive genes, thus limiting dynamic reconfiguration of gene circuits. Here, we report precise control of perturbation and reconfiguration of gene circuits in living cells by optically addressable siRNA-Au nanoantennas. The siRNA-Au nanoantennas fulfill dual functions as selectively addressable optical receivers and biomolecular emitters of small interfering RNA (siRNA). Using siRNA-Au nanoantennas as optical inputs to existing circuit connections, photonic gene circuits are constructed in living cells. We show that photonic gene circuits are modular, enabling subcircuits to be combined on-demand. Photonic gene circuits open new avenues for engineering functional gene circuits useful for fundamental bioscience, bioengineering, and medical applications.

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