Intermolecular forces between low generation PAMAM dendrimer condensed DNA helices: Role of cation architecture

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In recent years, dendriplexes, complexes of cationic dendrimers with DNA, have become attractive DNA delivery vehicles due to their well-defined chemistries. To better understand the nature of the forces condensing dendriplexes, we studied low generation poly(amidoamine) (PAMAM) dendrimer-DNA complexes and compared them to comparably charged linear arginine peptides. Using osmotic stress coupled with X-ray scattering, we have investigated the effect of molecular chain architecture on DNA-DNA intermolecular forces that determine the net attraction and equilibrium interhelical distance within these polycation condensed DNA arrays. In order to compact DNA, linear cations are believed to bind in DNA grooves and to interact with the phosphate backbone of apposing helices. We have previously shown a length dependent attraction resulting in higher packaging densities with increasing charge for linear cations. Hyperbranched polycations, such as polycationic dendrimers, presumably would not be able to bind to DNA and correlate their charges in the same manner as linear cations. We show that attractive and repulsive force amplitudes in PAMAM-DNA assemblies display significantly different trends than comparably charged linear arginines resulting in lower DNA packaging densities with increasing PAMAM generation. The salt and pH dependencies of packaging in PAMAM dendrimer-DNA and linear arginine-DNA complexes were also investigated. Significant differences in the force curve behaviour and salt and pH sensitivities suggest that different binding modes may be present in DNA condensed by dendrimers when compared to linear polycations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)590-599
Number of pages10
JournalSoft Matter
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 28 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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