January 20, 2011

How To Make Stable RNA Nanoparticles

How to make stable RNA nanoparticles has been a quest for researchers for a long time.

RNA as a tool for nanotechnology holds a lot of promise as it can be easily manipulated to build different structures but it is also very unstable. RNA destructs quickly with Ribonuclease (RNase), a common enzyme, which is present everywhere. Making stable RNA nanoparticles will be a boon for nanotechnology. University of Cincinnati researchers have come up with a new technique, which makes these stable RNA nanoparticles.

Together with alternating phosphate groups, ribose rings form the backbone of RNA. By changing one section of the ribose ring, the UC researchers were able to restructure the molecule. The new RNA molecule then does not bind with RNase and creates a stable 3D configuration of RNA.

From the research

After creating the RNA nanoparticle, Guo and his colleagues successfully used it to power the DNA packaging nanomotor of bacteriophage phi29, a virus that infects bacteria.

"We found that the modified RNA can fold into its 3-D structure appropriately, and can carry out its biological functions after modification,” says Guo. "Our results demonstrate that it is practical to produce RNase-resistant, biologically active, and stable RNA for application in nanotechnology.”

The stable RNA nanoparticles can be built as simply as DNA while providing the catalytic functions of proteins. The resulting 3D nanostructures can be used for delivering targeted therapies to cell amongst other uses.