2022 journal article

Gold nanoparticle design for RNA compaction


By: J. Nash n, M. Manning n, A. Gulyuk n, A. Kuznetsov* & Y. Yingling

Source: ORCID
Added: November 3, 2022

RNA-based therapeutics hold a great promise in treating a variety of diseases. However, double-stranded RNAs (dsRNAs) are inherently unstable, highly charged, and stiff macromolecules that require a delivery vehicle. Cationic ligand functionalized gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) are able to compact nucleic acids and assist in RNA delivery. Here, we use large-scale all-atom molecular dynamics simulations to show that correlations between ligand length, metal core size, and ligand excess free volume control the ability of nanoparticles to bend dsRNA far below its persistence length. The analysis of ammonium binding sites showed that longer ligands that bind deep within the major groove did not cause bending. By limiting ligand length and, thus, excess free volume, we have designed nanoparticles with controlled internal binding to RNA's major groove. NPs that are able to induce RNA bending cause a periodic variation in RNA's major groove width. Density functional theory studies on smaller models support large-scale simulations. Our results are expected to have significant implications in packaging of nucleic acids for their applications in nanotechnology and gene delivery.