Aptamer-Modified Au Nanoparticles: Functional Nanozyme Bioreactors for Cascaded Catalysis and Catalysts for Chemodynamic Treatment of Cancer Cells

Yu Ouyang, Michael Fadeev, Pu Zhang, Raanan Carmieli, Jiang Li, Yang Sung Sohn, Ola Karmi, Rachel Nechushtai, Eli Pikarsky, Chunhai Fan, Itamar Willner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Polyadenine-stabilized Au nanoparticles (pA-AuNPs) reveal dual nanozyme catalytic activities toward the H2O2-mediated oxidation of dopamine to aminochrome and toward the aerobic oxidation of glucose to gluconic acid and H2O2. The conjugation of a dopamine-binding aptamer (DBA) to the pA-AuNPs yields aptananozyme structures catalyzing simultaneously the H2O2-mediated oxidation of dopamine to aminochrome through the aerobic oxidation of glucose. A set of aptananozymes consisting of DBA conjugated through the 5′- or 3′-end directly or spacer bridges to pA-AuNPs were synthesized. The set of aptananozymes revealed enhanced catalytic activities toward the H2O2-catalyzed oxidation of dopamine to dopachrome, as compared to the separated pA-AuNPs and DBA constituents, and structure-function relationships within the series of aptananozymes were demonstrated. The enhanced catalytic function of the aptananozymes was attributed to the concentration of the dopamine at the catalytic interfaces by means of aptamer-dopamine complexes. The dual catalytic activities of aptananozymes were further applied to design bioreactors catalyzing the effective aerobic oxidation of dopamine in the presence of glucose. Mechanistic studies demonstrated that the aptananozymes generate reactive oxygen species. Accordingly, the AS1411 aptamer, recognizing the nucleolin receptor associated with cancer cells, was conjugated to the pA-AuNPs, yielding a nanozyme for the chemodynamic treatment of cancer cells. The AS1411 aptamer targets the aptananozyme to the cancer cells and facilitates the selective permeation of the nanozyme into the cells. Selective cytotoxicity toward MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells (ca. 70% cell death) as compared to MCF-10A epithelial cells (ca. 2% cell death) is demonstrated.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)18232-18243
Number of pages12
JournalACS Nano
Issue number11
StatePublished - 22 Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research is supported by the Israel Ministry of Science and Technology and by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China-The Hebrew University of Jerusalem cooperation program.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 American Chemical Society. All rights reserved.


  • Chemodynamic cancer therapy
  • DNA nanotechnology
  • Nanozyme
  • Oxidase
  • Peroxidase
  • Reactive oxygen species (ROS)


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