DNA cytoskeleton for stabilizing artificial cells

Research Highlight

DNA body armour

©Atomic Imagery/DigitalVision/Getty

©Atomic Imagery/DigitalVision/Getty

Capsules for delivering drugs and nutrients to the body can be strengthened by a sturdy shell of DNA.

Liposomes are artificial spherical droplets of fluid contained by lipid membranes that are often used to carry nutrients or deliver medication around the body. However, their membrane can leak or collapse because it lacks a cytoskeleton, the protein scaffold that bolsters living cells.

A team led by researchers from the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology created Y-shaped strands of DNA and cooled them until they clung together into mesh-like structures. The team inserted these structures into liposomes, where the negatively-charged DNA bound to the positively-charged lipid membrane. This created a reinforced, flexible shell that could withstand pressures at which a liposome would usually collapse.

Designing DNA shells of various strengths could improve the robustness of liposomes in biosensing and drug delivery.

Supported content

  1. PNAS 114, 7228–7233 (2017). doi: 10.1073/pnas.1702208114
Institutions Share
Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology (TUAT), Japan 0.36
Tohoku University, Japan 0.36
Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech), Japan 0.18
Keio University, Japan 0.09