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J Am Chem Soc. 2012 Nov 21;134(46):18908-11. doi: 10.1021/ja3082439. Epub 2012 Nov 7.

L-DNA molecular beacon: a safe, stable, and accurate intracellular nano-thermometer for temperature sensing in living cells.

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State Key Laboratory of Physical Chemistry of Solid Surfaces, Department of Chemical Biology, College of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Xiamen University, Xiamen 361005, China.


Noninvasive and accurate measurement of intracellular temperature is of great significance in biology and medicine. This paper describes a safe, stable, and accurate intracellular nano-thermometer based on an L-DNA molecular beacon (L-MB), a dual-labeled hairpin oligonucleotide built from the optical isomer of naturally occurring d-DNA. Relying on the temperature-responsive hairpin structure and the FRET signaling mechanism of MBs, the fluorescence of L-MBs is quenched below the melting temperature and enhanced with increasing temperature. Because of the excellent reversibility and tunable response range, L-MBs are very suitable for temperature sensing. More importantly, the non-natural L-DNA backbone prevents the L-MBs from binding to cellular nucleic acids and proteins as well as from being digested by nucleases inside the cells, thus ensuring excellent stability and accuracy of the nano-thermometer in a complex cellular environment. The L-MB nano-thermometer was used for the photothermal study of Pd nanosheets in living cells, establishing the nano-thermometer as a useful tool for intracellular temperature measurement.

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