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Colloidal and interfacial properties of synthetic nucleic acid complexes- assembly of nanostructured DNA particles and surfaces

Final Activity Report Summary - CIPSNAC (Colloidal and Interfacial Properties of Synthetic Nucleic Acid Complexes- Assembly of nanostructured DNA particles and surfaces)

The MCRTN-CIPSNAC investigated the complexation of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) with oppositely charged polymers and surfactants with regards to gene delivery systems and DNA compacted at surfaces. Control of DNA compaction and de-compaction is the key in future gene therapy and DNA transcription in synthetic systems. Likewise, the reversible protection and activation of DNA on surfaces is a key factor for reverse transfection assays, which become a versatile tool in gene analysis and diagnostics.

The created network investigated phase behaviour and structure of DNA-surfactant and DNA-polycation systems, condensed DNA phases at interfaces and protein decoration of DNA nanoparticles. A good overview of the achievements could be found in the book on ‘DNA interactions with surfactants and polymers’, which was edited by Rita S. Diaz and Björn Lindman and published by Wiley-Blackwell in 2008. In this book, besides others, all members of the MCRTN-CIPSNAC contributed.

More specifically, the complexation of DNA with surfactants and lipids at the air and water surface and in bulk aqueous solutions was carried out in the University of Paris-Sud (UPS) Langevin group in Paris. In the UPS Livolant group, located also in Paris, a study was carried out on the phase behaviour of DNA aggregates with cationic amphiphiles and biopolymers. In the Coimbra group under M. Miguel, research activity focussed on the phase behaviour of single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) and double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) with cationic amphiphiles, in particular mixtures with alquiltrimethylammonium chloride. In the Lund group of B. Lindman research focussed on the compaction of DNA by cationic surfactants and dendrimers and de-compaction by anionic surfactants, cyclodextrin and heparin. The University College Dublin (UCD) group under K. Dawson investigated the structure of lipid-DNA-Ca2+ complexes. In addition, the Dublin group also specialised in protein decoration of DNA nanoparticles and introduced the concept of the protein corona as the determinant for the transfection pathway inside cells. Finally, in the Ludwig-Maximilians Universitaet (LMU) group of J. Rädler DNA nanoparticle surfaces for surface-mediated cell transfection and biochip storage applications were developed.

Over the entire period a total of 10 early-stage researchers (ESR) and 11 experienced researchers (ER) were employed and received training throughout the network. Furthermore, more than 10 researchers from various groups were closely associated to the network and profited from the workshops and exchange programs. The researchers received a broad interdisciplinary training in the field of soft matter physics, surface and thin film characterisation, solution characterisation of DNA nanoparticles and imaging techniques. A special soft skill workshop was dedicated to training the network researchers in presentation techniques and time management.