This study increases the understanding at a molecular level of the interactions between DNA and poly(amido amine) (PAMAM) dendrimers on solid surfaces, which is a subject of potential interest in applications such as gene therapy. We have used in situ null ellipsometry and neutron reflectometry to study the structure of multilayer arrangements formed byPAMAM dendrimers of generation 2 (G2), 4 (G4), and 6 (G6) and DNAon silica surfaces. Specifically, we adsorbed cationic dendrimer layers, then we condensed DNA to form dendrimer-DNA bilayers, and last we exposed further dendrimer molecules to the interface to encapsulate DNA in dendrimer-DNA-dendrimer trilayers. The dendrimer monolayers formed initially result in the deformation of the cationic adsorbates as a result of their strong electrostatic attraction to the hydrophilic silica surface. The highest surface excess and most pronounced deformation occurs for the G6 molecules due to their relatively large size and high surface charge density. G6-functionalized surfaces give rise to the highest surface excess ofDNAduring the bilayer formation process. This result is explained in terms of the high number of charged binding sites in the G6 monolayer and the low electrostatic repulsion between DNA and exposed patches of silica surface due to the relatively thick G6 monolayer. The binding strengths of the silica-dendrimer and dendrimer-DNA interactions are demonstrated by the high stability of the interfacial bilayers during rinsing. For the formation of trilayers of dendrimers, DNA, and dendrimers, G2 adsorbs as a smooth layer while G4 and G6 induce the formation of less well-defined structures due to more complex DNA layer morphologies.
Ainalem, M. L., R. A. Campbell, T. Nylander