A route to self-assemble suspended DNA nano-complexes

Y Lansac and J Degrouard and M Renouard and AC Toma and F Livolant and E Raspaud, SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 6, 21995 (2016).

DOI: 10.1038/srep21995

Highly charged polyelectrolytes can self-assemble in presence of condensing agents such as multivalent cations, amphiphilic molecules or proteins of opposite charge. Aside precipitation, the formation of soluble micro-and nano-particles has been reported in multiple systems. However a precise control of experimental conditions needed to achieve the desired structures has been so far hampered by the extreme sensitivity of the samples to formulation pathways. Herein we combine experiments and molecular modelling to investigate the detailed microscopic dynamics and the structure of self-assembled hexagonal bundles made of short dsDNA fragments complexed with small basic proteins. We suggest that inhomogeneous mixing conditions are required to form and stabilize charged self-assembled nano-aggregates in large excess of DNA. Our results should help re-interpreting puzzling behaviors reported for a large class of strongly charged polyelectrolyte systems.

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