A tadpole-shaped gene carrier with distinct phase segregation in a ternary polymeric micelle†
A distinct tadpole-shaped nanostructure characterized by a spherical head and an extended shaft was identified in a single plasmid DNA (pDNA)-based polymeric micelle. The tadpole-shaped structure was constructed by adding anionic chondroitin sulfate (CS) to the rod-shaped polyplex micelle containing a single pDNA molecule packaged by the PEG-polycation block copolymer through their electrostatic self-assembly. The complex consequently developed a novel structure composed of segregated domains of the CS-rich inflated head and CS-poor folded DNA tail. Hence, this tadpole structure can be regarded as evidence that distinct phase segregation occurred in a single polymeric micelle containing pDNA.