Nucleic Acid–Gold Nanoparticles Conjugates as Mimics of MicroRNA*
Polyvalent oligonucleotide-functionalized gold nanoparticles have emerged as new and robust tools for drug delivery, analyte detection, and gene regulation in biological systems. These unusual structures consist of gold nanoparticles (AuNP) that are functionalized with a dense shell of synthetic oligonucleotides and have several properties that make them ideal for biomedical applications. This chapter reports the synthesis and characterization of novel miRNA-gold nanoparticle conjugates (miRNA-AuNPs) that are capable of entering cells without the aid of cationic co-carriers, regulating the expression of multiple genes and controlling cellular behavior. It hypothesizes that the polyvalent oligonucleotide-functionalized gold nanoparticles, which have been shown to enter cells without the use of a cationic co-carrier, could be functionalized with synthetic miRNA sequences and potentially overcome cellular transfection hurdles and mimic endogenous miRNA function.