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Hydrophobic Interactions between DNA Duplexes and Synthetic and Biological Membranes

Jones, SF; Joshi, H; Terry, SJ; Burns, JR; Aksimentiev, A; Eggert, US; Howorka, S; (2021) Hydrophobic Interactions between DNA Duplexes and Synthetic and Biological Membranes. Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS) 10.1021/jacs.0c13235. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Equipping DNA with hydrophobic anchors enables targeted interaction with lipid bilayers for applications in biophysics, cell biology, and synthetic biology. Understanding DNA-membrane interactions is crucial for rationally designing functional DNA. Here we study the interactions of hydrophobically tagged DNA with synthetic and cell membranes using a combination of experiments and atomistic molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. The DNA duplexes are rendered hydrophobic by conjugation to a terminal cholesterol anchor or by chemical synthesis of a charge-neutralized alkyl-phosphorothioate (PPT) belt. Cholesterol-DNA tethers to lipid vesicles of different lipid compositions and charges, while PPT DNA binding strongly depends on alkyl length, belt position, and headgroup charge. Divalent cations in the buffer can also influence binding. Our MD simulations directly reveal the complex structure and energetics of PPT DNA within a lipid membrane, demonstrating that longer alkyl-PPT chains provide the most stable membrane anchoring but may disrupt DNA base paring in solution. When tested on cells, cholesterol-DNA is homogeneously distributed on the cell surface, while alkyl-PPT DNA accumulates in clustered structures on the plasma membrane. DNA tethered to the outside of the cell membrane is distinguished from DNA spanning the membrane by nuclease and sphingomyelinase digestion assays. The gained fundamental insight on DNA-bilayer interactions will guide the rational design of membrane-targeting nanostructures.

Type: Article
Title: Hydrophobic Interactions between DNA Duplexes and Synthetic and Biological Membranes
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1021/jacs.0c13235
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1021/jacs.0c13235
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > The Ear Institute
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Chemistry
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10128629
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