Thesis Defense Announcement
To: the George Mason Community

Amanda C. Zirzow
Master of Science in Biology
Molecular Biology concentration

Date: Thursday December 2, 2010
Time: 1:00 - 2:30 P.M.
Place: Research I Bldg., Room 162
Fairfax campus

Thesis Chair: Dr. Ancha Baranova, MMB Dept. 
Title : "Post-transcriptional Gene Silencing and the Bioengineering of a Novel Non-Viral Nanoscale Vector for the Delivery of Small Interfering RNA Molecules"
Silencing of gene expression by small interfering RNA (siRNA) is promising for drug target discovery and as a therapy. However, a major impediment to the use and development of this technology is the inherent instability of siRNA in the bloodstream. To address this restriction, this research evaluates a novel, DNA and albumin based delivery vehicle for siRNA.  To study the kinetics of siRNA degradation, a custom 21nt double stranded RNA includes a fluorophore on one strand and a quencher on the other strand. Degradation dependent separation of quencher and fluorophore results in increased fluorescence intensity allowing siRNA degradation to be measured via fluorescence spectroscopy. The mean size distribution of DNA baskets was measured by dynamic light scattering. This investigation finds that the degradation of siRNA is delayed when siRNA is prepared with DNA/albumin and the size of the delivery particles optimal for cellular uptake, implying that DNA baskets are a promising technology for further development as the delivery vehicle for therapeutic siRNAs.