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Adv Sci (Weinh). 2019 Mar 20;6(10):1900043. doi: 10.1002/advs.201900043. eCollection 2019 May 17.

DNA Nanotechnology Enters Cell Membranes.

Huo S1,2,3, Li H1,2, Boersma AJ1, Herrmann A1,2,3.

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DWI-Leibniz Institute for Interactive Materials Forckenbeckstr. 50 52056 Aachen Germany.
Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials University of Groningen Nijenborgh 4 9747 AG Groningen The Netherlands.
Institute of Technical and Macromolecular Chemistry RWTH Aachen University Worringerweg 2 52074 Aachen Germany.


DNA is more than a carrier of genetic information: It is a highly versatile structural motif for the assembly of nanostructures, giving rise to a wide range of functionalities. In this regard, the structure programmability is the main advantage of DNA over peptides, proteins, and small molecules. DNA amphiphiles, in which DNA is covalently bound to synthetic hydrophobic moieties, allow interactions of DNA nanostructures with artificial lipid bilayers and cell membranes. These structures have seen rapid growth with great potential for medical applications. In this Review, the current state of the art of the synthesis of DNA amphiphiles and their assembly into nanostructures are first summarized. Next, an overview on the interaction of these DNA amphiphiles with membranes is provided, detailing on the driving forces and the stability of the interaction. Moreover, the interaction with cell surfaces in respect to therapeutics, biological sensing, and cell membrane engineering is highlighted. Finally, the challenges and an outlook on this promising class of DNA hybrid materials are discussed.


DNA amphiphiles; membranes; nanopores; nanostructures; vesicles

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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