Controllable self-assembly of RNA dendrimers

Ashwani Sharma, Farzin Haque, Fengmei Pi, Lyudmila S. Shlyakhtenko, B. Mark Evers, Peixuan Guo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (SciVal)


We report programmable self-assembly of branched, 3D globular, monodisperse and nanoscale sized dendrimers using RNA as building blocks. The central core and repeating units of the RNA dendrimer are derivatives of the ultrastable three-way junction (3WJ) motif from the bacteriophage phi29 motor pRNA. RNA dendrimers were constructed by step-wise self-assembly of modular 3WJ building blocks initiating with a single 3WJ core (Generation-0) with overhanging sticky end and proceeding in a radial manner in layers up to Generation-4. The final constructs were generated under control without any structural defects in high yield and purity, as demonstrated by gel electrophoresis and AFM imaging. Upon incorporation of folate on the peripheral branches of the RNA dendrimers, the resulting constructs showed high binding and internalization into cancer cells. RNA dendrimers are envisioned to have a major impact in targeting, disease therapy, molecular diagnostics and bioelectronics in the near future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)835-844
Number of pages10
JournalNanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research was supported by NIH grants U01 CA151648 (P.G.) and R01 EB019036 (P.G.). Service of Shared Resource Facilities was provided by University of KentuckyMarkey Cancer Center P30 CA177558 (B.M.E). Funding to P.G.''s Endowed Chair in Nanobiotechnology position is by the William Fairish Endowment Fund. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of NIH. The AFM work was supported by NIH grant P01GM091743 to Yuri Lyubchenko at University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Inc.


  • PRNA
  • RNA nanoparticle
  • RNA nanotechnology
  • Three-way junction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Materials Science (all)
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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