Universiteit Leiden

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DNA-Decorated soft nanostructures from the self-assembly of DNA amphiphiles

Thursday 1 December 2022
Gorlaeus Building
Einsteinweg 55
2333 CC Leiden


DNA-based nanostructures are promising for several biomedical and nanotechnological applications due to their excellent biocompatibility and DNA-directed surface addressability.[1] Recently, DNA has been applied as the hydrophilic segment of DNA-based amphiphilic systems for the construction of nanostructures in water.[2] These nanostructures also allows for the reversible integration of other functional molecules onto their surface through DNA hybridization.[3] Our group focuses on the design, synthesis and applications of DNA-chromophore hybrid amphiphiles. We have demonstrated the synthesis of a series of DNA-amphiphiles having varying hydrophobic segments and investigated their self-assembly.[4] The morphology of the nanostructures can be tuned by the appropriate selection of the hydrophobic segment of the amphiphile. Our studies also reveal that the hydrophilic DNA segment has little or no role in dictating the morphology of the resulting nanostructures. The surface addressability of the nanostructures by nanoparticles the design of a thermally gated light harvesting system is demonstrated. We also show that the decoration of the surface of the nanostructure with cell targeting ligands allows for binding to specific cancer cells that may find potential in targeted drug delivery applications. 


  1. N. C. Seeman, Nature, 2003, 421, 427−431.
  2. M. Kwak and A. Herrmann, Chem. Soc. Rev., 2011, 40, 5745–5755
  3. Z. Li, Y. Zhang, P. Fullhart and C. A. Mirkin, Nano Lett., 2004, 4, 1055−1058
  4. a) S. K. Albert, H. V. P. Thelu, M. Golla, N. Krishnan, S. Chaudhary and R. Varghese, Angew. Chem., Int. Ed., 2014, 53, 8352−8357; b) S. K. Albert, I. Sivakumar, M. Golla, H. V. P. Thelu, N. Krishnan, J. Libin K. L., Ashish, R. Varghese, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2017, 139, 17799−17802.


Reji Varghese received his master’s degree in Chemistry from Mahatma Gandhi University in 2001 and Ph. D. in supramolecular chemistry from the National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (NIIST) in 2007 under the supervision of Prof. Ayyappanpillai Ajayaghosh. He was an Alexander von Humboldt postdoctoral fellow with Prof. Hans-Achim Wagenknecht at the University of Regensburg, Germany, where he developed fluorescently labelled DNA for sensing applications. Subsequently, he joined Prof. Hao Yan group at the Arizona State University, USA as a postdoctoral fellow. He joined Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Thiruvananthapuram in January 2011. He is currently an Associate Professor at the Department of Chemistry. His research interests include supramolecular chemistry with DNA, cancer diagnosis and therapy and DNA nanotechnology. 

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