Relating Mobility of dsRNA in Nanoporous Silica Particles to Loading and Release Behavior

Shanshan Zhou, Emily A. Nadeau, M. Arif Khan, Bruce A. Webb, Stephen E. Rankin, Barbara L. Knutson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Nanoparticle delivery of polynucleic acids traditionally relies on the modulation of surface interactions to achieve loading and release. This work investigates the additional role of confinement in mobility of dsRNA (84 and 282 base pair (bp) sequences of Spodoptera frugiperda) as a function of silica nanopore size (nonporous, 3.9, 8.0, and 11.3 nm). Amine-functionalized nanoporous silica microspheres (NPSMs, ∼10 μm) are used to directly visualize the loading and exchange of fluorescently labeled dsRNA. Porous particles are fully accessible to both lengths of dsRNA by passive diffusion, except for 282 bp dsRNA in 3.9 nm pores. The stiffness of dsRNA suggests that encapsulation occurs by threading into nanopores, which is inhibited when the ratio of dsRNA length to pore size is large. The mobility of dsRNA at the surface and in the core of NPSMs, as measured by fluorescence recovery after photobleaching, is similar. The mobility increases with pore size (from 0.0002 to 0.001 μm2/s for 84 bp dsRNA in 3.9-11.3 nm pores) and decreases with the length of dsRNA. However, when the dsRNA is unable to load into the pores (on nonporous particles and for 282 bp dsRNA in 3.9 nm pores), surface mobility is not detectable. The pore structure appears to serve as a "source"to provide a mobile network of dsRNA at the particle surface. The importance of mobility is demonstrated by exchange experiments, where NPSMs saturated with mobile dsRNA can exchange dsRNA with the surrounding solution, while immobile dsRNA is not exchanged. These results indicate that nanoparticle synthesis techniques that provide pores large enough to take up polynucleic acids internally (and not simply on the external surface of the particle) can be harnessed to design polynucleic acid/nanoporous silica combinations for controlled mobility as a path forward toward effective nanocarriers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8267-8276
Number of pages10
JournalACS Applied Bio Materials
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 20 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Chemical Society.


  • RNA delivery
  • mobility
  • nanocarriers
  • nanoporous silica
  • polynucleic acids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials


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