Regulating Transition Metal Catalysis Through Interference by Short RNAs

Here we report the discovery of a Au(I)-DNA hybrid catalyst that is compatible with biological media and whose reactivity can be regulated by small complementary nucleic acid sequences. The development of this catalytic system was enabled by the discovery of a novel Au(I) metal-mediated base pair. We find that Au(I) binds selectively to double stranded DNA containing C–T mismatches. In the Au(I)-DNA catalyst's latent state, the Au(I) ion is sequestered by the mismatch such that it is coordinatively saturated, rendering it catalytically inactive. Upon addition of an RNA or DNA strand that is complementary to the latent catalyst's oligonucleotide backbone, catalytic activity is induced leading to a 7-fold increase in formation of fluorescent product, forged through a Au(I)-catalyzed hydroamination reaction. Further development of this catalytic system will allow for temporal and spatial control of transition metal catalysis through gene transcription.