Nanoparticle clusters (NPCs) have attracted significant interest owing to their unique characteristics arising from their collective individual properties. Nonetheless, the construction of NPCs in a structurally well-defined and size-controllable manner remains a challenge. Here we demonstrate a strategy to construct size-controlled NPCs using the DNA-binding zinc finger (ZnF) protein. Biotinylated ZnF was conjugated to DNA templates with different lengths, followed by incubation with neutravidin-conjugated nanoparticles. The sequence specificity of ZnF and programmable DNA templates enabled a size-controlled construction of NPCs, resulting in a homogeneous size distribution. We demonstrated the utility of magnetic NPCs by showing a three-fold increase in the spin-spin relaxivity in MRI compared with Feridex. Furthermore, folate-conjugated magnetic NPCs exhibited a specific targeting ability for HeLa cells. The present approach can be applicable to other nanoparticles, finding wide applications in many areas such as disease diagnosis, imaging, and delivery of drugs and genes.
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