Fully addressable DNA nanostructures, especially DNA origami, possess huge potential to serve as inherently biocompatible and versatile molecular platforms. However, their use as delivery vehicles in therapeutics is compromised by their low stability and poor transfection rates. This study shows that DNA origami can be coated by precisely defined one-to-one protein-dendron conjugates to tackle the aforementioned issues. The dendron part of the conjugate serves as a cationic binding domain that attaches to the negatively charged DNA origami surface via electrostatic interactions. The protein is attached to dendron through cysteine-maleimide bond, making the modular approach highly versatile. This work demonstrates the coating using two different proteins: bovine serum albumin (BSA) and class II hydrophobin (HFBI). The results reveal that BSA-coating significantly improves the origami stability against endonucleases (DNase I) and enhances the transfection into human embryonic kidney (HEK293) cells. Importantly, it is observed that BSA-coating attenuates the activation of immune response in mouse primary splenocytes. Serum albumin is the most abundant protein in the blood with a long circulation half-life and has already found clinically approved applications in drug delivery. It is therefore envisioned that the proposed system can open up further opportunities to tune the properties of DNA nanostructures in biological environment, and enable their use in various delivery applications.
- dendrons, DNA binding, DNA origami, nanobiomedicine, protein–polymer conjugates
- DNA binding
- DNA origami
- protein–polymer conjugates