Dan Shu

University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, United States

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Publications (29)193.03 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: RNA nanoparticles derived from the three-way junction (3WJ) of the pRNA of bacteriophage phi29 DNA packaging motor were previously found to be thermodynamically stable. As the nanoparticles could have potential in ocular drug delivery, the objectives in the present study were to investigate the distribution of pRNA nanoparticles after subconjunctival injection and examine the feasibility to deliver the nanoparticles to the cells of cornea and retina. Alexa647-labeled pRNA nanoparticles (pRNA-3WJ and pRNA-X) and double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) were administered via subconjunctival injection in mice. Alexa647 dye was a control. Topical administration was performed for comparison. Ocular clearance of pRNA nanoparticles and dsRNA after the injection was assessed using whole-body fluorescence imaging of the eyes. The numbers of cells in the ocular tissues with nanoparticle cell internalization were determined in fluorescence microscopy of dissected eye tissues. After subconjunctival injection, pRNA nanoparticles and dsRNA were observed to distribute into the eyes and cleared through the lymph. pRNA-3WJ, pRNA-X, and dsRNA were found in the cells of the conjunctiva, cornea, and sclera, but only pRNA-X was in the cells of the retina. Topical administration was not effective in delivering the nanoparticles to the eye. The pRNA nanoparticles were delivered to the cells in the eye via subconjunctival injection, and cell internalization was achieved in the cornea with pRNA-3WJ and pRNA-X and in the retina with pRNA-X. Only the X-shape pRNA-X could enter the retina.
    Pharmaceutical Research 12/2013; · 4.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Human genome sequencing reveals that only 1.5% of the DNA sequence codes for protein. More and more evidence reveals that a substantial part of the 98.5% so-called "junk" DNAs actually code for small noncoding RNAs. Two milestones, chemical drugs and protein drugs, have appeared in the history of drug development, and it is expected that a third milestone in drug development will be RNA drug or chemical drugs that target RNA. This review focuses on the development of RNA therapeutics for potential cancer treatment by applying RNA nanotechnology. A therapeutic RNA nanoparticle is so unique that in this particle the scaffold, the ligand, and the therapeutic can all be composed of RNA. The special physicochemical properties lend to delivery of siRNA, miRNA, ribozymes, and fluogenenic RNA as imaging agents or RNA aptamer as ligands for targeting. With recent advances in solving the RNA chemical, enzymatic, and thermodynamic stability issues, RNA nanoparticles have been found to be advantageous for in vivo applications due to their uniform nano-scale size, precise stoichiometry, polyvalent nature, low immunogenicity, low toxicity, and target specificity. In vivo animal studies have revealed that RNA nanoparticles can specifically target tumors without unwanted accumulation in normal organs. We summarize the key studies that led to the detailed understanding of RNA particle formation, as well as chemical and thermodynamic stability. We discuss methods and "toolkits" for RNA nanoparticle construction. The current challenges in clinical application of RNA nanotechnology, such as endosome trapping and production cost, will also be discussed.
    Advanced drug delivery reviews 11/2013; · 11.96 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Misfolding and associated loss of function are common problems in constructing fusion RNA complexes due to changes in energy landscape and the nearest-neighbor principle. Here we report the incorporation and application of the pRNA-3WJ motif of the phi29 DNA packaging motor into fusion RNA with controllable and predictable folding. The motif included three discontinuous ∼18 nucleotide (nt) fragments, displayed a distinct low folding energy (Shu D et al., Nature Nanotechnology, 2011, 6:658-667), and folded spontaneously into a leading core that enabled the correct folding of other functionalities fused to the RNA complex. Three individual fragments dispersed at any location within the sequence allowed the other RNA functional modules to fold into their original structures with authentic functions, as tested by Hepatitis B virus ribozyme, siRNA, and aptamers for malachite green (MG), spinach, and streptavidin (STV). Only nine complementary nucleotides were present for any two of the three ∼18-nt fragments, but the three 9 bp branches were so powerful that they disrupted other double strands with more than 15 bp within the fusion RNA. This system enabled the production of fusion complexes harboring multiple RNA functionalities with correct folding for potential applications in biotechnology, nanomedicine and nanotechnology. We also applied this system to investigate the principles governing the folding of RNA in vivo and in vitro. Temporal production of RNA sequences during in vivo transcription caused RNA to fold into different conformations that could not be predicted with routine principles derived from in vitro studies.
    Nucleic Acids Research 09/2013; · 8.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: RNA nanotechnology is a term that refers to the design, fabrication and use of nanoparticles that are mainly composed of RNAs via bottom-up self-assembly. The packaging RNA (pRNA) of the bacteriophage phi29 DNA packaging motor has been developed into a nanodelivery platform. This protocol describes the synthesis, assembly and functionalization of pRNA nanoparticles on the basis of three 'toolkits' derived from pRNA structural features: interlocking loops for hand-in-hand interactions, palindrome sequences for foot-to-foot interactions and an RNA three-way junction for branch extension. siRNAs, ribozymes, aptamers, chemical ligands, fluorophores and other functionalities can also be fused to the pRNA before the assembly of the nanoparticles, so as to ensure the production of homogeneous nanoparticles and the retention of appropriate folding and function of the incorporated modules. The resulting self-assembled multivalent pRNA nanoparticles are thermodynamically and chemically stable, and they remain intact at ultralow concentrations. Gene-silencing effects are progressively enhanced with increasing numbers of siRNAs in each pRNA nanoparticle. Systemic injection of the pRNA nanoparticles into xenograft-bearing mice has revealed strong binding to tumors without accumulation in vital organs or tissues. The pRNA-based nanodelivery scaffold paves a new way for nanotechnological application of pRNA-based nanoparticles for disease detection and treatment. The time required for completing one round of this protocol is 3-4 weeks when including in vitro functional assays, or 2-3 months when including in vivo studies.
    Nature Protocol 09/2013; 8(9):1635-59. · 8.36 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Due to structural flexibility, RNase sensitivity, and serum instability, RNA nanoparticles with concrete shapes for in vivo application remain challenging to construct. Here we report the construction of 14 RNA nanoparticles with solid shapes for targeting cancers specifically. These RNA nanoparticles were resistant to RNase degradation, stable in serum for >36 h, and stable in vivo after systemic injection. By applying RNA nanotechnology and exemplifying with these 14 RNA nanoparticles, we have established the technology and developed "toolkits" utilizing a variety of principles to construct RNA architectures with diverse shapes and angles. The structure elements of phi29 motor pRNA were utilized for fabrication of dimers, twins, trimers, triplets, tetramers, quadruplets, pentamers, hexamers, heptamers, and other higher-order oligomers, as well as branched diverse architectures via hand-in-hand, foot-to-foot, and arm-on-arm interactions. These novel RNA nanostructures harbor resourceful functionalities for numerous applications in nanotechnology and medicine. It was found that all incorporated functional modules, such as siRNA, ribozymes, aptamers, and other functionalities, folded correctly and functioned independently within the nanoparticles. The incorporation of all functionalities was achieved prior, but not subsequent, to the assembly of the RNA nanoparticles, thus ensuring the production of homogeneous therapeutic nanoparticles. More importantly, upon systemic injection, these RNA nanoparticles targeted cancer exclusively in vivo without accumulation in normal organs and tissues. These findings open a new territory for cancer targeting and treatment. The versatility and diversity in structure and function derived from one biological RNA molecule implies immense potential concealed within the RNA nanotechnology field.
    RNA 04/2013; · 4.62 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: One of the advantages of nanotechnology is the feasibility to construct therapeutic particles carrying multiple therapeutics with defined structure and stoichiometry. The field of RNA nanotechnology is emerging. However, controlled assembly of stable RNA nanoparticles with multiple functionalities which retain their original role is challenging due to refolding after fusion. Herein, we report the construction of thermodynamically stable X-shaped RNA nanoparticles to carry four therapeutic RNA motifs by self-assembly of reengineered small RNA fragments. We proved that each arm of the four helices in the X-motif can harbor one siRNA, ribozyme, or aptamer without affecting the folding of the central pRNA-X core, and each daughter RNA molecule within the nanoparticle folds into their respective authentic structures and retains their biological and structural function independently. Gene silencing effects were progressively enhanced as the number of the siRNA in each pRNA-X nanoparticles gradually increased from one to two, three, and four. More importantly, systemic injection of ligand-containing nanoparticles into the tail-vein of mice revealed that the RNA nanoparticles remained intact and strongly bound to cancers without entering the liver, lung or any other organs or tissues, while remaining in cancer tissue for more than 8 h.
    Nano Today 08/2012; 7(4):245-257. · 18.43 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: RNA nanoparticles have applications in the treatment of cancers and viral infection; however, the instability of RNA nanoparticles has hindered their development for therapeutic applications. The lack of covalent linkage or crosslinking in nanoparticles causes dissociation in vivo. Here we show that the packaging RNA of bacteriophage phi29 DNA packaging motor can be assembled from 3-6 pieces of RNA oligomers without the use of metal salts. Each RNA oligomer contains a functional module that can be a receptor-binding ligand, aptamer, short interfering RNA or ribozyme. When mixed together, they self-assemble into thermodynamically stable tri-star nanoparticles with a three-way junction core. These nanoparticles are resistant to 8 M urea denaturation, are stable in serum and remain intact at extremely low concentrations. The modules remain functional in vitro and in vivo, suggesting that the three-way junction core can be used as a platform for building a variety of multifunctional nanoparticles. We studied 25 different three-way junction motifs in biological RNA and found only one other motif that shares characteristics similar to the three-way junction of phi29 pRNA.
    Nature Nanotechnology 09/2011; 6(10):658-67. · 31.17 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Recent advances in RNA nanotechnology have led to the emergence of a new field and brought vitality to the area of therapeutics [P. Guo, The emerging field of RNA nanotechnology, Nat. Nanotechnol., 2010]. Due to the complementary nature of the four nucleotides and its special catalytic activity, RNA can be manipulated with simplicity characteristic of DNA, while possessing versatile structure and diverse function similar to proteins. Loops and tertiary architecture serve as mounting dovetails or wedges to eliminate external linking dowels. Unique features in transcription, termination, self-assembly, self-processing, and acid-resistance enable in vivo production of nanoparticles harboring aptamer, siRNA, ribozyme, riboswitch, or other regulators for therapy, detection, regulation, and intracellular computation. The unique property of noncanonical base-pairing and stacking enables RNA to fold into well-defined structures for constructing nanoparticles with special functionalities. Bacteriophage phi29 DNA packaging motor is geared by a ring consisting of six packaging RNA (pRNA) molecules. pRNA is able to form a multimeric complex via the interaction of two reengineered interlocking loops. This unique feature makes it an ideal polyvalent vehicle for nanomachine fabrication, pathogen detection, and delivery of siRNA or other therapeutics. This review describes methods in using pRNA as a building block for the construction of RNA dimers, trimers, and hexamers as nanoparticles in medical applications. Methods for industrial-scale production of large and stable RNA nanoparticles will be introduced. The unique favorable PK (pharmacokinetics) profile with a half life (T(1/2)) of 5-10h comparing to 0.25 of conventional 2'-F siRNA, and advantageous in vivo features such as non-toxicity, non-induction of interferons or non-stimulating of cytokine response in animals will also be reviewed.
    Methods 02/2011; 54(2):204-14. · 3.22 Impact Factor
  • Biophysical Journal 02/2011; 100(3). · 3.83 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The increasing interest in RNA nanotechnology and the demonstrated feasibility of using RNA nanoparticles as therapeutics have prompted the need for imaging systems with nanometer-scale resolution for RNA studies. Phi29 dimeric pRNAs can serve as building blocks in assembly into the hexameric ring of the nanomotors, as modules of RNA nanoparciles, and as vehicles for specific delivery of therapeutics to cancers or viral infected cells. The understanding of the 3D structure of this novel RNA dimeric particle is fundamentally and practically important. Although a 3D model of pRNA dimer has been proposed based on biochemical analysis, no distance measurements or X-ray diffraction data have been reported. Here we evaluated the application of our customized single-molecule dual-viewing system for distance measurement within pRNA dimers using single-molecule Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer (smFRET). Ten pRNA monomers labeled with single donor or acceptor fluorophores at various locations were constructed and eight dimers were assembled. smFRET signals were detected for six dimers. The tethered arm sizes of the fluorophores were estimated empirically from dual-labeled RNA/DNA standards. The distances between donor and acceptor were calculated and used as distance parameters to assess and refine the previously reported 3D model of the pRNA dimer. Distances between nucleotides in pRNA dimers were found to be different from those of the dimers bound to procapsid, suggesting a conformational change of the pRNA dimer upon binding to the procapsid.
    ACS Nano 10/2010; 4(11):6843-53. · 12.03 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Linear double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) viruses package their genome into a procapsid using an ATP-driven nanomotor. Here we report that bacteriophage phi29 DNA packaging motor exercises a one-way traffic property for dsDNA translocation from N-terminal entrance to C-terminal exit with a valve mechanism in DNA packaging, as demonstrated by voltage ramping, electrode polarity switching, and sedimentation force assessment. Without the use of gating control as found in other biological channels, the observed single direction dsDNA transportation provides a novel system with a natural valve to control dsDNA loading and gene delivery in bioreactors, liposomes, or high throughput DNA sequencing apparatus.
    Nano Letters 09/2010; 10(9):3620-7. · 13.03 Impact Factor
  • Biophysical Journal 01/2010; 98(3). · 3.83 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Simultaneous detection of two fluorescent markers is important in determination of distance, relative motion and conformational change of nanoparticles or nanodevices. We constructed an imaging system which combines deep-cooled sensitive EMCCD camera with both the objective- and prism-type TIRF. A laser combiner was introduced to facilitate laser controls for simultaneous dual-channel imaging by deliver lasers with different wavelength synchronically via an optic fiber to the sample. The system produces stable signal with extremely low background fluorescence for single-fluorophore detection. It has been applied to study the structure, stoichiometry, and function of the phi29 DNA packaging motor. Single-molecule photobleaching combined with binomial distribution analysis clarified the stoichiometry of pRNA on the motor and elucidated the mechanism of pRNA hexamer assembly. The feasibility of single-molecule FRET with this system was demonstrated. Distance rulers of dual-labeled molecule standards were used to evaluate the system. We have also re-engineered the energy conversion protein, gp16, of phi29 motor for single fluorophore labeling to facilitate the single-molecule studies of motor mechanism. The potential applications of single-molecule high-resolution imaging with photobleaching (SHRImP) and single molecule high resolution with co-localization (SHREC) approaches to the study of the phi29 nanomotor are under investigation.
    Proc SPIE 01/2010; 7571:757107-757108.
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    ABSTRACT: The pRNA (packaging RNA) of bacteriophage phi29 DNA packaging motor has been reported to have novel applications in nanotechnology and nanomedicine. The unique ability of pRNA to form dimers, trimers, hexamers and patterned superstructures via the interaction of two reengineered interlocking loops makes it a promising polyvalent vehicle to load siRNA and other therapeutic molecules and be applied as a therapeutic nanoparticle in tumor therapy. In this study, several tumor cell lines were used to evaluate the previously reported pRNA nanotechnology for specific siRNA delivery and for the silencing of targeted genes. It was found that MCF-7 and HeLa cells, out of twenty-five tested tumor cell lines, expressed high levels of folate receptors and exhibited specific binding of the FITC-folate-pRNA nanoparticles, while the others expressed low levels and thus, for these, delivery was not feasible using folate as a targeting agent. Folate receptor positive tumor cells were then incubated with the chimeric pRNA dimer harboring both the folate-pRNA and the chimeric pRNA/siRNA (survivin). Knock down effects of survivin expression in these tumor cells were detected at the mRNA level by real time-PCR and at the protein level by western blot. Apoptosis was detected by flow cytometry analysis with dual staining of annexinV-FITC and PI. The data suggest that the chimeric pRNA nanoparticles containing folate-pRNA and pRNA/siRNA (survivin) could be specifically taken up by tumor cells through folate receptor-mediated endocytosis, resulting in significant inhibition of both transcription and expression of survivin in tumor cells and triggering cell apoptosis. Using such protein-free nanoparticles as therapeutic reagents would not only allow specific gene delivery and extend the in vivo retaining time but also allow long-term administration of therapeutic particles, therefore avoiding the induction of antibodies caused by repeated treatment for chronic diseases.
    Molecular BioSystems 11/2009; 5(11):1361-8. · 3.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A customized laser combiner was designed and constructed for dual channel single molecule imaging. The feasibility of a combiner-incorporated imaging system was demonstrated in studies of single molecule FRET. Distance rulers made of dual-labeled dsDNA were used to evaluate the system by determining the distance between one FRET pair. The results showed that the system is sensitive enough to distinguish between distances differing by two base pair and the distances calculated from FRET efficiencies are close to those documented in the literature. The single molecule FRET with the dual-color imaging system was also applied to reconstructed phi29 motor pRNA monomers. Finally, techniques for dual laser alignment and tuning of laser power for dual-color excitation are discussed.
    Biomedical Microdevices 10/2009; 12(1):97-106. · 2.72 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Bacteriophage phi29 DNA packaging motor is geared by a six-pRNA ring. pRNA is able to form a multimeric complex and patterned superstructures via the interaction of two reengineered interlocking loops. This unique feature makes it an ideal polyvalent vehicle for nanomachine fabrication, pathogen detection, and the delivery of therapeutics. This report describes novel approaches for the fabrication of polyvalent therapeutic pRNA nanoparticles, especially tetramers for specific siRNA delivery to cancer cells and for the silencing of targeted genes. RNA 3-D design, circular permutation, folding energy alteration, and nucleotide modification were applied to generate stable RNA nanoparticles with low toxicity. Animal trials demonstrated the high efficiency of the polyvalent RNA nanoparticles in the prevention and treatment of cancer. Using such protein-free nanoparticles as therapeutic reagents would allow for long-term administration to avoid the induction of antibody due to repeated treatment for chronic diseases.
    IEEE/NIH Life Science Systems and Applications Workshop. IEEE/NIH Life Science Systems and Applications Workshop. 05/2009; 2009:9-12.
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    ABSTRACT: A dual-channel imaging system with single fluorophore sensitivity was assembled in this lab. Inclusion of an integrated laser combiner was introduced to facilitate simultaneous dual-channel imaging. The imaging system has been applied to study the structure, stoichiometry, distance and function of the phi29 DNA packaging motor. Approaches including single molecule photobleaching, single molecule FRET and binomial distribution quantification were carried out to clarify the stoichiometry and distance of pRNA on the biologically active packaging motor. The results were statistically analyzed to access the copy number of pRNA, and the distance constraint was used to verify the 3D structure of the computer model of phi29 DNA packaging motor.
    IEEE/NIH Life Science Systems and Applications Workshop. IEEE/NIH Life Science Systems and Applications Workshop. 04/2009; 2009:124-127.
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    ABSTRACT: This paper reports a reversible switching of the biological activity of an RNA molecule, packaging RNA (pRNA), which is a central component of the DNA packaging motor of bacteriophage phi29. The switching mechanism contains two components: (1) inhibition of pRNA by a short antisense DNA (asDNA) that can bind to the 3' end of the pRNA and inactivate the packaging motor; and (2) reactivation of pRNA by isothermal removal of asDNA from pRNA through a strand displacement strategy. The switching process can be repeated for multiple cycles and has been demonstrated by gel electrophoresis and a virion assembly assay.
    Journal of the American Chemical Society 01/2009; 130(52):17684-7. · 11.44 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We report a simple and robust magnetomechanical system for direct visual observation of the DNA packaging behavior of the bacteriophage phi29 in real time. The system comprises a micron-sized magnetic bead attached to the free end of the viral DNA, a magnet and a bright-field microscope. We show that the phi29 DNA packaging activity can be observed and dynamically analyzed at the single molecular level in bright field with a relatively simple system. With this system we also visually demonstrate the phi29 motor transporting a cargo 10 000 times the viral size.
    Applied Physics Letters 11/2008; 93(15):153902. · 3.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The bacteriophage phi29 DNA packaging motor is a protein/RNA complex that can produce strong force to condense the linear-double-stranded DNA genome into a pre-formed protein capsid. The RNA component, called the packaging RNA (pRNA), utilizes magnesium-dependent inter-molecular base-pairing interactions to form ring-shaped complexes. The pRNA is a class of non-coding RNA, interacting with phi29 motor proteins to enable DNA packaging. Here, we report a two-piece chimeric pRNA construct that is fully competent in interacting with partner pRNA to form ring-shaped complexes, in packaging DNA via the motor, and in assembling infectious phi29 virions in vitro. This is the first example of a fully functional pRNA assembled using two non-covalently interacting fragments. The results support the notion of modular pRNA architecture in the phi29 packaging motor.
    Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 09/2008; 372(4):589-94. · 2.28 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

591 Citations
193.03 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2012–2013
    • University of Kentucky
      • Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
      Lexington, KY, United States
  • 2008–2013
    • University of Cincinnati
      • • Department of Ophthalmology
      • • Department of Biomedical Engineering
      Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
  • 2003–2007
    • Purdue University
      • Department of Comparative Pathobiology (CPB)
      West Lafayette, IN, United States