Center researchers have developed an innovative biomimetic approach, exploiting the unique physical and optical properties of liquid crystals (LC), to detect the presence of specific proteins in a complex environment. In this approach, hybridization between DNA within liposomes and a PEG-lipid monolayer at an aqueous/LC interface induces programmed liposome fusion. These hybridization events induce strain within the liposome bilayer, promote lipid mixing with the LC interface, and consequently create an interfacial environment favoring reorientation of the LC to a homeotropic (perpendicular) state. For bio-sensing applications, nucleic acid aptamers are used to block this programmed fusion under normal conditions. However, in the presence of the aptamer's target protein, the aptamer is removed from the liposomes, freeing the DNA to promote liposome fusion and LC reorientation.

Group: Schwartz
(February 2014)

aptamer detection
The birefringence of a nematic liquid crystal film on the surface of an aqueous well in a TEM grid indicates whether a target aptamer is present in solution.


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