Determinants of Ligand-Functionalized DNA Nanostructure-Cell Interactions

Glenn A.O. Cremers, Bas J.H.M. Rosier, Ab Meijs, Nicholas B. Tito, Sander M.J. van Duijnhoven, Hans van Eenennaam, Lorenzo Albertazzi, Tom F.A. de Greef (Corresponding author)

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Synthesis of ligand-functionalized nanomaterials with control over size, shape, and ligand orientation facilitates the design of targeted nanomedicines for therapeutic purposes. DNA nanotechnology has emerged as a powerful tool to rationally construct two- and three-dimensional nanostructures, enabling site-specific incorporation of protein ligands with control over stoichiometry and orientation. To efficiently target cell surface receptors, exploration of the parameters that modulate cellular accessibility of these nanostructures is essential. In this study, we systematically investigate tunable design parameters of antibody-functionalized DNA nanostructures binding to therapeutically relevant receptors, including the programmed cell death protein 1, the epidermal growth factor receptor, and the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2. We show that, although the native affinity of antibody-functionalized DNA nanostructures remains unaltered, the absolute number of bound surface receptors is lower compared to soluble antibodies due to receptor accessibility by the nanostructure. We explore structural determinants of this phenomenon to improve efficiency, revealing that receptor binding is mainly governed by nanostructure size and DNA handle location. The obtained results provide key insights in the ability of ligand-functionalized DNA nanostructures to bind surface receptors and yields design rules for optimal cellular targeting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10131–10142
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number27
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank J. Schill for help with the TEM imaging and analysis. M. Merkx, P. de Vink, and D. Schrijver are gratefully acknowledged for valuable insights and fruitful discussions. We thank Promega for making it possible to provide the PD1/PDL1 Blockade Bioassay cells. This work was supported by the European Research Council (ERC) (project no. 677313 BioCircuit), an NWO-VIDI grant from The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO, 723.016.003), and funding from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (Gravity programs, 024.001.035 and 024.003.013).


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