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by Keyword: Macromolecules

Xiong R, Sauvage F, Fraire JC, Huang C, De Smedt SC, Braeckmans K, (2023). Photothermal Nanomaterial-Mediated Photoporation Accounts Of Chemical Research 56, 631-643

ConspectusDelivering biological effector molecules in cultured cells is of fundamental importance to any study or application in which the modulation of gene expression is required. Examples range from generating engineered cell lines for studying gene function to the engineering of cells for cell-based therapies such as CAR-T cells and gene-corrected stem cells for regenerative medicine. It remains a great challenge, however, to deliver biological effector molecules across the cell membrane with minimal adverse effects on cell viability and functionality. While viral vectors have been frequently used to introduce foreign nucleic acids into cells, their use is associated with safety concerns such as immunogenicity, high manufacturing cost, and limited cargo capacity.For photoporation, depending on the laser energy, membrane permeabilization happens either by local heating or by laser-induced water vapor nanobubbles (VNB). In our first study on this topic, we demonstrated that the physical force exerted by suddenly formed VNB leads to more efficient intracellular delivery as compared to mere heating. Next, we explored the use of different photothermal nanomaterials, finding that graphene quantum dots display enhanced thermal stability compared to the more traditionally used gold nanoparticles, hence providing the possibility to increase the delivery efficiency by repeated laser activation. To enable its use for the production of engineered therapeutic cells, it would be better if contact with cells with nondegradable nanoparticles is avoided as it poses toxicity and regulatory concerns. Therefore, we recently demonstrated that photoporation can be performed with biodegradable polydopamine nanoparticles as well. Alternatively, we demonstrated that nanoparticle contact can be avoided by embedding the photothermal nanoparticles in a substrate made from biocompatible electrospun nanofibers. With this variety of photoporation approaches, over the years we demonstrated the successful delivery of a broad variety of biologics (mRNA, siRNA, Cas9 ribonucleoproteins, nanobodies, etc.) in many different cell types, including hard-to-transfect cells such as T cells, embryonic stem cells, neurons, and macrophages.In this Account, we will first start with a brief introduction of the general concept and a historical development of photoporation. In the next two sections, we will extensively discuss the various types of photothermal nanomaterials which have been used for photoporation. We discriminate two types of photothermal nanomaterials: single nanostructures and composite nanostructures. The first one includes examples such as gold nanoparticles, graphene quantum dots, and polydopamine nanoparticles. The second type includes polymeric films and nanofibers containing photothermal nanoparticles as well as composite nanoscale biolistic nanostructures. A thorough discussion will be given for each type of photothermal nanomaterial, from its synthesis and characterization to its application in photoporation, with its advantages and disadvantages. In the final section, we will provide an overall discussion and elaborate on future perspectives.

JTD Keywords: cells, delivery, macromolecules, nanoparticles, In-vitro


De Corato, M, Arroyo, M, (2022). A theory for the flow of chemically responsive polymer solutions: Equilibrium and shear-induced phase separation Journal Of Rheology 66, 813-835

Chemically responsive polymers are macromolecules that respond to local variations of the chemical composition of the solution by changing their conformation, with notable examples including polyelectrolytes, proteins, and DNA. The polymer conformation changes can occur in response to changes in the pH, the ionic strength, or the concentration of a generic solute that interacts with the polymer. These chemical stimuli can lead to drastic variations of the polymer flexibility and even trigger a transition from a coil to a globule polymer conformation. In many situations, the spatial distribution of the chemical stimuli can be highly inhomogeneous, which can lead to large spatial variations of polymer conformation and of the rheological properties of the mixture. In this paper, we develop a theory for the flow of a mixture of solute and chemically responsive polymers. The approach is valid for generic flows and inhomogeneous distributions of polymers and solutes. To model the polymer conformation changes introduced by the interactions with the solute, we consider the polymers as linear elastic dumbbells whose spring stiffness depends on the solute concentration. We use Onsager's variational formalism to derive the equations governing the evolution of the variables, which unveils novel couplings between the distribution of dumbbells and that of the solute. Finally, we use a linear stability analysis to show that the governing equations predict an equilibrium phase separation and a distinct shear-induced phase separation whereby a homogeneous distribution of solute and dumbbells spontaneously demix. Similar phase transitions have been observed in previous experiments using stimuli-responsive polymers and may play an important role in living systems. (C) 2022 The Society of Rheology.

JTD Keywords: Coil-globule transition, Constitutive equation, Dilute-solutions, Dumbbell model, Dynamics, Macromolecules, Nonequilibrium thermodynamics, Polyelectrolytes, Polymer migration, Polymer phase separation, Polymers, Predictions, Rheology, Shear-induced phase separation, Solute-polymer interactions, Stress, Viscoelasticity


Harder, A., Walhorn, V., Dierks, T., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., Anselmetti, D., (2010). Single-molecule force spectroscopy of cartilage aggrecan self-adhesion Biophysical Journal , 99, (10), 3498-3504

We investigated self-adhesion between highly negatively charged aggrecan macromolecules extracted from bovine cartilage extracellular matrix by performing atomic force microscopy (AFM) imaging and single-molecule force spectroscopy (SMFS) in saline solutions. By controlling the density of aggrecan molecules on both the gold substrate and the gold-coated tip surface at submonolayer densities, we were able to detect and quantify the Ca2+-dependent homodimeric interaction between individual aggrecan molecules at the single-molecule level. We found a typical nonlinear sawtooth profile in the AFM force-versus-distance curves with a molecular persistence length of I-p = 0.31 +/- 0.04 nm. This is attributed to the stepwise dissociation of individual glycosaminoglycan (GAG) side chains in aggrecans, which is very similar to the known force fingerprints of other cell adhesion proteoglycan systems. After studying the GAG-GAG dissociation in a dynamic, loading-rate-dependent manner (dynamic SMFS) and analyzing the data according to the stochastic Bell-Evans model for a thermally activated decay of a metastable state under an external force, we estimated for the single glycan interaction a mean lifetime of tau = 7.9 +/- 4.9 s and a reaction bond length of x(beta) = 0.31 +/- 0.08 nm. Whereas the x(beta)-value compares well with values from other cell adhesion carbohydrate recognition motifs in evolutionary distant marine sponge proteoglycans, the rather short GAG interaction lifetime reflects high intermolecular dynamics within aggrecan complexes, which may be relevant for the viscoelastic properties of cartilage tissue.

JTD Keywords: Bovine nasal cartilage, Articular-cartilage, Sinorhizobium-meliloti, Proteoglycan, Microscopy, DNA, Macromolecules, Binding, Protein, Glycosaminoglycans