Self-assembly, DNA complexation, and pH response of amphiphilic dendrimers for gene transfection

Marine Guillot-Nieckowski, Derk Joester, Meike Stöhr, Myriam Losson, Marc Adrian, Bjoern Wagner, Manfred Kansy, Harry Heinzelmann, Raphaël Pugin*, François Diederich, Jean Louis Gallani

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Cationic lipids and polymers are routinely used for cell transfection, and a variety of structure - activity relation data have been collected. Few studies, however, focus on the structural aspects of self-assembly as a crucial control parameter for gene delivery. We present here the observations collected for a set of cationic dendritic amphiphiles based on a stiff tolane core (1-4) that are built from identical subunits but differ in the number and balance of their hydrophobic and cationic hydrophilic moieties. We established elsewhere that vectors 3 and 4 have promising transfection properties. Scanning probe microscopy (AFM, STM), cryo-transmission electron microscopy (cryo-TEM), and Langmuir techniques provide insight into the self-assembly properties of the molecules under physiological conditions. Furthermore, we present DNA and pH "jump" experiments where we study the response of Langmuir films to a sudden increase in DNA concentration or a drop in pH. We find that the primary self-assembly of the amphiphile is of paramount importance and influences DNA binding, serum sensitivity, and pH response of the vector system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)737-746
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 16 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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