Clathrin-Inspired Coating and Stabilization of Liposomes by DNA Self-Assembly

The self-assembly of the protein clathrin on biological membranes facilitates essential processes of endocytosis in biological systems and has provided a source of inspiration for materials design by the highly ordered structural appearance. By mimicking the architecture of clathrin self-assemblies to coat liposomes with biomaterials, new classes of hybrid carriers can be derived. Here we present a method for fabricating DNA-coated liposomes by hydrophobically anchoring and subsequently growing a DNA network on the liposome surface which structurally mimics clathrin assemblies. Dynamic light scattering (DLS), ζ-potential and cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) measurements independently demonstrate successful DNA coating. Nanomechanical measurements conducted with atomic force microscopy (AFM) show that the DNA coating enhances the mechanical stability of the liposomes relative to uncoated ones. Furthermore, we provide the possibility to reverse the coating process by triggering the disassembly of the DNA coating through a toehold-mediated displacement reaction. Our results describe a straightforward, versatile, and reversible approach for coating and stabilizing lipid vesicles by an interlaced DNA network. This method has potential for further development towards the ordered arrangement of tailored functionalities on the surfaces of liposomes and for applications as hybrid nanocarrier.