Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2010

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Aliasger K. Salem

Second Advisor

Maureen D. Donovan

First Committee Member

Daryl J. Murry

Second Committee Member

Jennifer Fiegel

Third Committee Member

Liu Hong


Chitosan, a copolymer of glucosamine and N-acetyl glucosamine, is a polycationic, biocompatible and biodegradable polymer. In addition, chitosan has different functional groups that can be modified with a wide array of ligands. Because of its unique physicochemical properties, chitosan has great potential in a range of biomedical applications, including tissue engineering, non-viral gene delivery and enzyme immobilization.

In our work, the primary amine groups of chitosan were utilized for chitosan modification through biotinylation using N-hydroxysuccinimide chemistry. This was followed by the addition of avidin which strongly binds to biotin. Biotinylated ligands such as polyethylene glycol (PEG) and RGD peptide sequence, or biotinylated enzymes such as trypsin, were then added to modify the surface properties of the chitosan for a variety of purposes. Modified chitosans were formulated into nano-sized particles or cast into films. Different factors affecting fabrication of chitosan particles, such as the pH of the preparation, the inclusion of polyanions, the charge ratios and the degree of deacetylation and the molecular weight of chitosan were studied. Similarly, parameters affecting the fabrication of chitosan films, such as cross-linking, were investigated for potential applications in tissue engineering and enzyme immobilization.

It was found that the inclusion of dextran sulfate resulted in optimum interaction between chitosan and DNA, as shown by the high stability of these nanoparticles and their high in vitro transfection efficiencies in HEK293 cells. When applying these formulations as DNA vaccines in vivo, chitosan nanoparticles loaded with the ovalbumin antigen and the plasmid DNA encoding the same antigen resulted in the highest antibody response in C57BL/6 mice.

Furthermore, engineering of the surface of chitosan nanoparticles was done by utilizing the avidin-biotin interaction for attaching PEG and RGD. The modified formulations were tested for their in vitro gene delivery properties and it was found that these ligands improved gene transfection efficiencies significantly.

Chitosan nanoparticles were optimized further for enzyme immobilization purposes using sodium sulfate and glutaraldehyde as physical and chemical cross-linking agents, respectively. These particles and chitosan films were used for immobilizing trypsin utilizing several techniques. Enzyme immobilization via avidin-biotin interaction resulted in high immobilization efficiency and high enzymatic activity in different reaction conditions. Additionally, the immobilized trypsin systems were stable and amenable to be regenerated for multiple uses.

Finally, glutaraldehyde cross-linked chitosan films were modified with PEG and RGD for their cell repellant and cell adhesion properties, respectively, using avidin-biotin interaction. This method was again effective in engineering chitosan surfaces for modulating cell adhesion and proliferation.

In conclusion, using avidin-biotin technique to modify biotinylated chitosan surfaces is a facile method to attach a wide variety of ligands in mild reaction conditions, while preserving the functionality of these ligands.


avidin, biotin, chitosan, dextran sulfate, enzyme immobilization, gene delivery


xxi, 302 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 283-302 ).


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Copyright 2010 Aiman Abbas