American Chemical Society
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Characterization of a Lipophilic Plasmid DNA Condensate Formed with a Cationic Peptide Fatty Acid Conjugate

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journal contribution
posted on 2011-05-09, 00:00 authored by Trinh T. Do, Vicky J. Tang, Joe A. Aguilera, Christopher C. Perry, Jamie R. Milligan
In the presence of cationic ligands, DNA molecules can become aggregated into larger particles in a process known as condensation. DNA condensates are of interest as models for the dense packing found in naturally occurring structures such as phage heads and chromatin. They have found extensive application in DNA transfection and also provide convenient models with which to study DNA damage by the direct effect of ionizing radiation. Further, conjugates of cationic peptides with fatty acids may represent a class of attractive ligands for these areas because of their simple synthesis. When plasmid pUC18 is used as the DNA target and N-caproyl-penta-arginine amide (Cap-R5-NH2) is used as the ligand, the physical properties of the resulting mixtures were characterized using static and dynamic light scattering, sedimentation, dye exclusion, circular dichroism, nanoparticle tracking, and atomic force microscopy. Their chemical properties were assayed using solvent extraction and protection against hydroxyl radical attack and nuclease digestion. Titration of the plasmid with the Cap-R5-NH2 ligand produced sharply defined changes in both chemical and physical properties, which was associated with the formation of condensed DNA particles in the 100−2000 nm size range. The caproyl group at the ligand’s N-terminus produced a large increase in the partitioning of the resulting condensate from water into chloroform and in its binding to the neutral detergent Pluronic F-127. Both the physical and chemical data were all consistent with condensation of the plasmid by the ligand where the presence in the ligand of the caproyl group conferred an extensive lipophilic character upon the condensate.