Polyelectrolyte microcapsules have great potential for serving as carriers for the delivery of their contents when triggered by an external stimulus. Aptamers are synthetic ssDNA or RNA that can bind to specific targets with high affinity and selectivity. Aptamers may retain these superior molecular recognition properties after encapsulation within polymer microcapsules. In this work, stable polyelectrolyte microcapsules with encapsulated aptamers were obtained by the layer-by-layer (LbL) method. Polyelectrolyte films were deposited onto a CaCO3 template that had been predoped with polystyrene sulfonate (PSS) and aptamer sequences (SA) that have an affinity for the dye sulforhodamine B (SRB). The PSS and aptamers are thought to serve as an internal scaffold supporting the microcapsule walls. These microcapsules would present target-molecule-triggered rupture properties. Microcapsule collapse was triggered by the binding of SRB to the encapsulated aptamer. The specificity of microcapsule collapse was investigated using a similar dye, tetramethylrosamine (TMR), which does not have affinity for SA. A high concentration of TMR did not lead to the collapse of the microcapsules. The effect of target binding on the microcapsules was confirmed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM). These microcapsules may have potential applications in targeted delivery systems for the controlled release of drugs, pesticides, or other payloads.

Additional Metadata
Keywords aptamer, layer-by-layer assembly, polyelectrolyte microcapsules, selectivity, target molecule, triggered rupture
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1021/am400668q
Journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Zhang, X. (Xueru), Chabot, D. (Denise), Sultan, Y. (Yasir), Monreal, C. (Carlos), & DeRosa, M.C. (2013). Target-molecule-triggered rupture of aptamer-encapsulated polyelectrolyte microcapsules. ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, 5(12), 5500–5507. doi:10.1021/am400668q