Journal article

Spontaneous condensation in DNA-polystyrene-b-poly(L-lysine) polyelectrolyte block copolymer mixtures

We investigated the condensation of calf thymus DNA by amphiphilic polystyrenem-b-poly(l-lysine)n block copolymers ( PS m -b- PLys n , m, n = degree of polymerization), using small-angle X-ray scattering, polarized optical microscopy and laser scanning confocal microscopy. Microscopy studies showed that the DNA condenses in the form of fibrillar precipitates, with an irregular structure, due to electrostatic interactions between PLys and DNA. This is not modified by the presence of hydrophobic PS block. Scattering experiments show that the structure of the polyplexes corresponds to a local order of DNA rods which becomes more compact upon increasing n. It can be concluded that for DNA/ PS m -b- PLys n polyplexes, the balance between the PLys block length and the excess charge in the system plays an essential role in the formation of a liquid crystalline phase.


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