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Time-Gated FRET and DNA-Based Photonic Molecular Logic Gates: AND, OR, NAND, and NOR

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journal contribution
posted on 08.08.2017 by Melissa Massey, Igor L. Medintz, Mario G. Ancona, W. Russ Algar
Molecular logic devices (MLDs) constructed from DNA are promising for applications in bioanalysis, computing, and other applications requiring Boolean logic. These MLDs accept oligonucleotide inputs and generate fluorescence output through changes in structure. Although fluorescent dyes are most common in MLD designs, nontraditional luminescent materials with unique optical properties can potentially enhance MLD capabilities. In this context, luminescent lanthanide complexes (LLCs) have been largely overlooked. Here, we demonstrate a set of high-contrast DNA photonic logic gates based on toehold-mediated strand displacement and time-gated FRET. The gates include NAND, NOR, OR, and AND designs that accept two unlabeled target oligonucleotide sequences as inputs. Bright “true” output states utilize time-gated, FRET-sensitized emission from an Alexa Fluor 546 (A546) dye acceptor paired with a luminescent terbium cryptate (Tb) donor. Dark “false” output states are generated through either displacement of the A546, or through competitive and sequential quenching of the Tb or A546 by a dark quencher. Time-gated FRET and the long luminescence lifetime and spectrally narrow emission lines of the Tb donor enable 4–10-fold contrast between Boolean outputs, ≤10% signal variation for a common output, multicolor implementation of two logic gates in parallel, and effective performance in buffer and serum. These metrics exceed those reported for many other logic gate designs with only fluorescent dyes and with other non-LLC materials. Preliminary three-input AND and NAND gates are also demonstrated. The powerful combination of an LLC FRET donor with DNA-based logic gates is anticipated to have many future applications in bioanalysis.