Date of Graduation

Spring 2014


Master of Science in Cell and Molecular Biology


Biomedical Sciences

Committee Chair

Robert DeLong


From the nexus of RNA molecular biology and nanoscience has emerged an exciting new field called RNA Nanotechnology. For therapeutic application, most studies to date have focused on siRNA, however, an additional advantage of aptamers, splice-site switching oligomers (SSOs), and RNA polymer poly I:C is that they can be designed to inhibit or up-regulate gene expression to promote beneficial anti-cancer response. From a pre-clinical standpoint, there are three very important characteristics that a candidate nanomaterial should possess for RNA delivery. First, it would be a major advantage if the nanomaterial were capable of binding RNA directly. Second, the nanomaterial must be compatible with RNA. Third, the nanomaterial must preserve RNA structure-function. Here we tested a panel of NMs including for their effect on RNA structure-function by various characterization techniques. We found that the surface charge of naked NMs provides a preliminary indication as to their direct interaction with RNA and the cell membrane. Changes in the absorbance spectrum of RNA in the presence of NMs elude to a more specific description of such interactions, such as degradation or binding. Our evidence suggests that MgO is unique in that it directly binds RNA, as well as releases it, in a time-dependent manner. We also show cancer-specific cytotoxicity of a few of the NMs screened under various conditions. The investigations performed within this study elucidate the basic interactions between various NMs and RNA species. Further investigation may proceed based on these data.


nanomaterials, RNA, characterization, circular dichroism, UV/Vis spectroscopy, MTT assay, melanoma

Subject Categories

Medical Molecular Biology


© Ashley Marguerite Schaeffer

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