Gene therapy and RNA delivery require a nanoparticle (NP) to stabilize these nucleic acids when administered in vivo. The presence of degradative hydrolytic enzymes within these environments limits the nucleic acids’ pharmacologic activity. This study compared the effects of nanoscale ZnO and MgO in the protection afforded to DNA and RNA from degradation by DNase, serum or tumor homogenate. For double-stranded plasmid DNA degradation by DNase, our results suggest that the presence of MgO NP can protect DNA from DNase digestion at an elevated temperature (65 °C), a biochemical activity not present in ZnO NP-containing samples at any temperature. In this case, intact DNA was remarkably present for MgO NP after ethidium bromide staining and agarose gel electrophoresis where these same stained DNA bands were notably absent for ZnO NP. Anticancer RNA, polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid (poly I:C) is now considered an anti-metastatic RNA targeting agent and as such there is great interest in its delivery by NP. For it to function, the NP must protect it from degradation in serum and the tumor environment. Surprisingly, ZnO NP protected the RNA from degradation in either serum-containing media or melanoma tumor homogenate after gel electrophoretic analysis, whereas the band was much more diminished in the presence of MgO. For both MgO and ZnO NP, buffer-dependent rescue from degradation occurred. These data suggest a fundamental difference in the ability of MgO and ZnO NP to stabilize nucleic acids with implications for DNA and RNA delivery and therapy.


Biomedical Sciences

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© 2017 The authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).


DNA stability, DNase, DNase activity, Gel electrophoresis, Metal oxide nanoparticle (MONP), MgO, RNA stability, RNase, RNase activity, ZnO

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