Direct Incorporation of Functional Peptides into M-DNA through Ligand-to-Metal Charge Transfer

Kwang Suk Lim, Daniel Y. Lee, Gabriel M. Valencia, David A. Bull, Young Wook Won

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Conventional nonviral gene delivery methods suffer from the toxicity of the cationic nature of polymeric carriers. There is a significant need for a new method of gene delivery that overcomes the limitations and allows targeted gene delivery. In this study, we have developed a new method to incorporate functional peptides into DNA without the need for chemical conjugations by utilizing a ligand-to-metal charge transfer (LMCT) transition, which occurs between divalent metal ions and the sulfhydryl group in cysteine. To apply the LMCT transition to the incorporation of cysteine-containing targeting peptides into DNA, divalent metal ions must be first introduced to DNA. Zn2+ ions spontaneously intercalate into the DNA base pairs in the pH range of 7.0-8.5, resulting in the conversion of normal B-DNA to metal-bound DNA (M-DNA). We found that the Zn2+ ions present in M-DNA could interact with the sulfhydryl groups in cysteines of targeting peptides through the LMCT transition, and the M-DNA/peptide complex could specifically transfect the target cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)98-102
Number of pages5
JournalACS Macro Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 21 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry


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