DNA has become the material of choice for the construction of complex nanometer-scale molecular structures, thanks to its easily predicted secondary structure, its low cost and its high stability. Recently, the possibility of transforming these elegant nanostructures into active “addressable” nanodevices that respond to specific molecular inputs (analytes or even “fuels”) has been also demonstrated, opening up applications ranging from sensing to drug-delivery.
Motivated by the above evidences, we exploit the “designability” of nucleic acids to develop stimuli-responsive structure-switching DNA nanodevices. Inspired by the efficiency of natural structure-switching nanosensors, we re-engineer naturally occurring DNA sequences into synthetic switches that can generate a signal output or activate a specific function (i.e. the release of a molecular cargo) only when they bind to their intended targets (protein, antibodies, pH changes).