Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

DNA cages are nanometer-scale polyhedral structures formed by self-assembly from synthetic DNA oligonucleotides. Potential applications include in vivo imaging and the targeted delivery of macromolecules into living cells. We report an investigation of the ability of a model cage, a DNA tetrahedron, to enter live cultured mammalian cells. Cultured human embryonic kidney cells were treated with a range of fluorescently labeled DNA tetrahedra and subsequently examined using confocal microscopy and flow cytometry. Substantial uptake of tetrahedra into cells was observed both when the cells were treated with tetrahedra alone and when the cells were treated with a mixture of tetrahedra and a transfection reagent. Analysis of the subcellular localization of transfected tetrahedra using confocal microscopy and organelle staining indicates that the cages are located in the cytoplasm. FRET experiments indicate that the DNA cages remain substantially intact within the cells for at least 48 h after transfection. This is a first step toward the use of engineered DNA nanostructures to deliver and control the activity of cargoes within cells.

Original publication




Journal article


ACS Nano

Publication Date





5427 - 5432


Biological Transport, Cell Survival, DNA, Flow Cytometry, Fluorescent Dyes, HEK293 Cells, Humans, Intracellular Space, Time Factors, Transfection