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Incorporating DNA into polyelectrolyte membranes.

Master student research project

Incorporating DNA into polyelectrolyte membranes.

Membranes are very thin layers of materials that work as selective barriers; allowing some types of
molecules to pass while retaining others. The most common membranes are made from polymers and the most common application is drinking water filtration. Recently, the Membrane Science &
Technology group at the University of Twente has discovered a new method to make polymer
membranes from polyelectrolyte complexation. However, polyelectrolyte complexes have another
interesting properties; they are able to incorporate biomolecules such as DNA or proteins into the complex.

Here at the Nanobiophysics department at the University of Twente we would like to combine these
two polyelectrolyte complex properties and create membranes via polyelectrolyte complexation that
also contains DNA. DNA consists of two ‘complimentary’ strands that have a very high affinity for binding too each other. By incorporating one of the two strands into the polyelectrolyte membrane, it could be possible to capture the complimentary strand from a solution being passed through the membrane. Possible future applications include developing a new type of sensor for use in biochemical and molecular biology research.

The protocol to create polyelectrolyte membranes already exists. It is also known that it is possible to incorporate single-stranded DNA into similar systems. The exact method on how to combine this knowledge and how to adapt the existing protocol to add DNA to the polyelectrolyte membranes is not known and adapting the existing protocol is part of the project.

Project to-do list:

  • Investigate under which polyelectrolyte composition the best incorporation of DNA happens.
  • Look at the effect of pH on the incorporation of DNA.
  • Adapt the existing protocol for the addition of DNA. Including evaluating whether the DNA has actually been incorporated into the membrane
  • Test whether the single-stranded incorporated DNA can capture its complementary strand from a solution passed through the membrane.

Department: Nanobiophysics (NBP)  (nov 2018)

Daily Supervisor: Jéré van Lente,

Project Leader: dr. Saskia Lindhoud,