Intrinsic Dynamics of DNA–Polymer Complexes: A Mechanism for DNA Release

The transfer of genetic material into cells using nonviral vectors offers unique potential for therapeutics; however, the efficacy of delivery depends upon a poorly understood, multistep pathway, limiting the prospects for successful gene delivery. Mechanistic insight into DNA association and release has been hampered by a lack of atomic resolution structural and dynamic information for DNA–polymer complexes (polyplexes). Here, we report a dendrimer-based polyplex system containing poly­(ethyleneglycol) (PEG) arms that is suitable for atomic-level characterization by solution NMR spectroscopy. NMR chemical shift, line width, and proton transverse relaxation rate measurements reveal that free and dendrimer-bound polyplex DNA exchange rapidly relative to the NMR time scale (