Anionic Polymer and Quantum Dot Excipients to Facilitate siRNA Release and Self-Reporting of Disassembly in Stimuli-Responsive Nanocarrier Formulations.
ABSTRACT: The incorporation of anionic excipients into polyplexes is a promising strategy for modulating siRNA binding versus release and integrating diagnostic capabilities; however, specific design criteria and structure-function relationships are needed to facilitate the development of nanocarrier-based theranostics. Herein, we incorporated poly(acrylic acid) (PAA) and quantum dot (QD) excipients into photolabile siRNA polyplexes to increase gene silencing efficiencies by up to 100% and enable self-reporting of nanocarrier disassembly. Our systematic approach identified the functional relationships between gene silencing and key parameters such as excipient loading fractions and molecular weights that facilitated the establishment of design rules for optimization of nanocarrier efficacy. For example, we found that PAA molecular weights ?10-20× greater than that of the coencapsulated siRNA exhibited the most efficient release and silencing. Furthermore, siRNA release assays and RNAi modeling allowed us to generate a PAA "heat map" that predicted gene silencing a priori as a function of PAA molecular weight and loading fraction. QDs further promoted selective siRNA release and provided visual as well as Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET)-based monitoring of the dynamic changes in nanostructure in situ. Moreover, even with the addition of anionic components, our formulations exhibited substantially improved stability and shelf life relative to typical formulations, with complete stability after a week of storage and full activity in the presence of serum. Taken together, this study enabled synergistic improvements in siRNA release and diagnostic capabilities, along with the development of mechanistic insights that are critical for advancing the translation of nucleic acid theranostics into the clinic.
Project description:Two of the most prominent challenges that limit the clinical success of siRNA therapies are a lack of control over cargo release from the delivery vehicle and an incomplete understanding of the link between gene silencing dynamics and siRNA dosing. Herein, we address these challenges through the formulation of siRNA polyplexes containing light-responsive polymer mixtures, whose varied compositions and triggered release behavior provide enhanced gene silencing and controlled dose responses that can be predicted by simple kinetic models. Through the straightforward mixing of two block copolymers, the level of gene knockdown was easily optimized to achieve the maximum level of GAPDH protein silencing in NIH/3T3 cells (~70%) using a single siRNA dose. The kinetic model was used to describe the dynamic changes in mRNA and protein concentrations in response to siRNA treatment. These predictions enabled the application of a second dose of siRNA to maximally suppress gene expression over multiple days, leading to a further 50% reduction in protein levels relative to those measured following a single dose. Furthermore, polyplexes remained dormant in cells until exposed to the photo-stimulus, demonstrating the complete control over siRNA activity as well as the stability of the nanocarriers. Thus, this work demonstrates that pairing advances in biomaterials design with simple kinetic modeling provides new insight into gene silencing dynamics and presents a powerful strategy to control gene expression through siRNA delivery.Our manuscript describes two noteworthy impacts: (1) we designed mixed polymer formulations to enhance gene silencing, and (2) we simultaneously developed a simple kinetic model for determining optimal siRNA dose responses to maintain silencing over several days. These advances address critical challenges in siRNA delivery and provide new opportunities in therapeutics development. The structure-function relationships prevalent in these formulations were established to enable tuning and forecasting of nanocarrier efficiency a priori, leading to siRNA dosing regimens able to maximally suppress gene expression. Our advances are significant because the mixed polymer formulations provide a straightforward and scalable approach to tailor siRNA delivery regimens. Moreover, the implementation of accurate dosing frameworks addresses a major knowledge gap that has hindered clinical implementation of siRNA.
Project description:Clinical translation of small interfering RNA (siRNA) nanocarriers is hindered by limited knowledge regarding the parameters that regulate interactions between nanocarriers and biological systems. To address this, we investigated the influence of polycation-based nanocarrier architecture on intracellular siRNA delivery. We compared the cellular interactions of two polycation-based siRNA carriers that have similar size and surface charge but different siRNA orientation: (1) polyethylenimine-coated spherical nucleic acids (PEI-SNAs), in which polyethylenimine is wrapped around a spherical nucleic acid core containing radially oriented siRNA and (2) randomly assembled polyethylenimine-siRNA polyplexes that lack controlled architecture. We found that PEI-SNAs undergo enhanced and more rapid cellular uptake than polyplexes, suggesting a prominent role for architecture in cellular uptake. Confocal microscopy studies demonstrated that while PEI-SNAs and polyplexes exhibit similar intracellular stability, PEI-SNAs undergo decreased accumulation within lysosomes, identifying another advantage conferred by their architecture. Indeed, these advantageous cellular interactions enhanced the gene silencing potency of PEI-SNAs by 10-fold relative to polyplexes. Finally, cytocompatibility studies showed that PEI-SNAs exhibit decreased toxicity per PEI content relative to polyplexes, allowing the use of more polycation. Our studies provide critical insight into design considerations for engineering siRNA carriers and warrant future investigation of how nanocarrier architecture influences cellular-, organ-, and organism-level interactions.
Project description:Lipoplexes and polyplexes represent the two major nanocarrier systems for nucleic acid delivery. Previous studies examining their uptake and intracellular unpacking rely on organic fluorophores fraught with low signal intensity and photobleaching. In this work quantum dot mediated Förster resonance energy transfer (QD-FRET) was first used to study and compare the cellular uptake and the intracellular fate of oligodeoxynucelotide (ODN)-based lipoplexes and polyplexes. QD605-amine and Cy5-labeled ODN (Cy5-GTI2040) were chosen as the FRET pair. By adjusting the lipid/ODN ratio of lipoplexes and the nitrogen/phosphate (N/P) ratio of polyplexes, lipoplexes and polyplexes with comparable physical properties were produced. The biological activities of dual-labeled lipoplexes and polyplexes remained unaltered compared to their unlabeled counterparts as evidenced by their comparable antisense activities against protein R2 in KB cells. Flow cytometry and confocal microscopy revealed similar pattern of uptake for these two types of nanoparticles, although polyplexes had a higher dissociation rate than lipoplexes in KB cells. We demonstrate that QD-FRET is a sensitive tool to study the uptake and intracellular unpacking of lipoplexes and polyplexes, which may help optimize their formulations for various theranostics applications.
Project description:To develop stable and inhalable dry powder formulations with long shelf life, we spray dried polyplexes consisting of siRNA and a polyethylenimine based block copolymer in presence of mannitol or trehalose. We investigated the effect of inlet (T-In) and outlet (T-Out) temperature on the recovery of siRNA as well as adsorption effects within the tubing material. Choosing a low abrasion silicon tubing prevented siRNA loss due to adsorption. Mannitol and trehalose formulations preserved siRNA integrity regardless of excipient concentration and temperature at T-Out below the siRNA melting temperature. Trehalose formulations allowed full siRNA recovery whereas mannitol formulations resulted in spray drying induced losses of ~20 % siRNA and of 50-60 % polymer. Mannitol formulations showed optimal aerodynamic characteristics as confirmed by next generation impaction analysis based upon siRNA content. All spray dried formulations resulted in GFP silencing comparable or better than freshly prepared polyplexes. To test if the observed results could be transferred, formulations of siRNA and transferrin-PEI conjugates were spray dried, characterized and used to transfect primary human T cells ex vivo. Results confirmed successful silencing of the Th2 transcription factor GATA3 in primary CD4<sup>+</sup> T cells with spray dried formulations as a potential treatment for severe asthma.
Project description:Redox-responsive polyplexes represent a promising class of non-viral gene delivery vectors. The reducible disulfide bonds in the polyplexes undergo intracellular reduction owing to the presence of high concentrations of reduced glutathione (GSH). Available evidence suggests improved transfection activity of redox-sensitive polyplexes upon artificial modulation of intracellular GSH. This study investigates the effect of innate differences in GSH concentration in a panel of human pancreatic cancer cell lines on activity of reducible polyplexes of the four major classes of nucleic acid therapeutics: plasmid DNA (pDNA), messenger RNA (mRNA), antisense oligodeoxynucleotides (AON) and siRNA. In general, reducible polyplexes of linear poly(amido amines) (PAA) show improved activity compared to non-reducible polyplexes of PAA. Results demonstrate that increased GSH levels are associated with improved transfection of mRNA polyplexes but no clear trend is observed for pDNA, AON and siRNA polyplexes.
Project description:Development of chemo-resistance is a major challenge in glioblastoma (GB) treatment. This phenomenon is often driven by increased activation of genes associated with DNA repair, such as the alkyl-removing enzyme O<sup>6</sup>-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) in combination with overexpression of canonical genes related to cell proliferation and tumor progression, such as Polo-like kinase 1 (Plk1). Hereby, we attempt to sensitize resistant GB cells using our established amphiphilic poly(α)glutamate (APA): small interfering RNA (siRNA) polyplexes, targeting Plk1. Furthermore, we improved brain-targeting by decorating our nanocarrier with sulfonate groups. Our sulfonated nanocarrier showed superior selectivity towards P-selectin (SELP), a transmembrane glycoprotein overexpressed in GB and angiogenic brain endothelial cells. Self-assembled polyplexes of sulfonated APA and siPlk1 internalized into GB cells and into our unique 3-dimensional (3D) GB spheroids inducing specific gene silencing. Moreover, our RNAi nanotherapy efficiently reduced the cell viability of both chemo-sensitive and chemo-resistant GB cells. Our developed sulfonated amphiphilic poly(α)glutamate nanocarrier has the potential to target siRNA to GB brain tumors. Our findings may strengthen the therapeutic applications of siRNA for chemo-resistant GB tumors, or as a combination therapy for chemo-sensitive GB tumors.
Project description:This work establishes that Kupffer cell release of platelet activating factor (PAF), a lipidic molecule with pro-inflammatory and vasoactive signaling properties, dictates dose-limiting siRNA nanocarrier-associated toxicities. High-dose intravenous injection of siRNA-polymer nano-polyplexes (si-NPs) elicited acute, shock-like symptoms in mice, associated with increased plasma PAF and consequently reduced PAF acetylhydrolase (PAF-AH) activity. These symptoms were completely prevented by prophylactic PAF receptor inhibition or Kupffer cell depletion. Assessment of varied si-NP chemistries confirmed that toxicity level correlated to relative uptake of the carrier by liver Kupffer cells and that this toxicity mechanism is dependent on carrier endosome disruptive function. 4T1 tumor-bearing mice, which exhibit increased circulating leukocytes, displayed greater sensitivity to these toxicities. PAF-mediated toxicities were generalizable to commercial delivery reagent in vivo-jetPEI® and an MC3 lipid formulation matched to an FDA-approved nanomedicine. These collective results establish Kupffer cell release of PAF as a key mediator of siRNA nanocarrier toxicity and identify PAFR inhibition as an effective strategy to increase siRNA nanocarrier tolerated dose.
Project description:In this study, we developed anionic polymer-coated liposome/siRNA complexes (lipoplexes) with chondroitin sulfate C (CS), poly-l-glutamic acid (PGA) and poly-aspartic acid (PAA) for siRNA delivery by intravenous injection, and evaluated the biodistribution and gene silencing effect in mice. The sizes of CS-, PGA- and PAA-coated lipoplexes were about 200?nm and their ?-potentials were negative. CS-, PGA- and PAA-coated lipoplexes did not induce agglutination after mixing with erythrocytes. In terms of biodistribution, siRNAs after intravenous administration of cationic lipoplexes were largely observed in the lungs, but those of CS-, PGA- and PAA-coated lipoplexes were in both the liver and the kidneys, indicating that siRNA might be partially released from the anionic polymer-coated lipoplexes in the blood circulation and accumulate in the kidney, although the lipoplexes can prevent the agglutination with blood components. To increase the association between siRNA and cationic liposome, we used cholesterol-modified siRNA (siRNA-Chol) for preparation of the lipoplexes. When CS-, PGA- and PAA-coated lipoplexes of siRNA-Chol were injected into mice, siRNA-Chol was mainly observed in the liver, not in the kidneys. In terms of the suppression of gene expression in vivo, apolipoprotein B (ApoB) mRNA in the liver was significantly reduced 48?h after single intravenous injection of PGA-coated lipoplex of ApoB siRNA-Chol (2.5?mg?siRNA/kg), but not cationic, CS- and PAA-coated lipoplexes. In terms of toxicity after intravenous injection, CS-, PGA- and PAA-coated lipoplexes did not increase GOT and GPT concentrations in blood. From these findings, PGA coatings for cationic lipoplex of siRNA-Chol might produce a systemic vector of siRNA to the liver.
Project description:Small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) are able to silence their target genes when they are successfully delivered intact into the cytoplasm. Delivery systems that enhance siRNA localization to the cytoplasm can facilitate gene silencing by siRNA therapeutics. We describe an arginine-conjugated poly(cystaminebisacrylamide-diaminohexane) (poly(CBA-DAH-R)), a bioreducible cationic polymer, as an siRNA carrier for therapeutic gene silencing for cancer. After intracellular uptake of the siRNA/poly(CBA-DAH-R) polyplexes, the reductive environment of the cytoplasm cleaves the disulfide linkages in the polymeric backbone, resulting in decomplexing of the siRNA/poly(CBA-DAH-R) polyplexes and release of siRNA molecules throughout the cytoplasm. The siRNA/poly(CBA-DAH-R) polyplexes, which demonstrate increased membrane permeability with arginine modification, have a similar level of cellular uptake as siRNA/bPEI polyplexes. The VEGF siRNA/poly(CBA-DAH-R) polyplexes, however, inhibit VEGF expression to a greater degree than VEGF siRNA/bPEI in various human cancer cell lines. The improved RNAi activity demonstrated by the VEGF siRNA/poly(CBA-DAH-R) polyplexes is due to enhanced intracellular delivery and effective localization to the cytoplasm of the VEGF siRNAs. These results demonstrate that the VEGF siRNA/poly(CBA-DAH-R) polyplex delivery system may useful for siRNA-based approaches for cancer therapy.
Project description:Formation of stable, long-circulating siRNA polyplexes is a significant challenge in translation of intravenously-delivered, polymeric RNAi cancer therapies. Here, we report that siRNA hydrophobization through conjugation to palmitic acid (siPA) improves stability, in vivo pharmacokinetics, and tumor gene silencing of PEGylated nanopolyplexes (siPA-NPs) with balanced cationic and hydrophobic content in the core relative to the analogous polyplexes formed with unmodified siRNA, si-NPs. Hydrophobized siPA loaded into the NPs at a lower charge ratio (N(+):P(-)) relative to unmodified siRNA, and siPA-NPs had superior resistance to siRNA cargo unpackaging in comparison to si-NPs upon exposure to the competing polyanion heparin and serum. In vitro, siPA-NPs increased uptake in MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells (100% positive cells vs. 60% positive cells) but exhibited equivalent silencing of the model gene luciferase relative to si-NPs. In vivo in a murine model, the circulation half-life of intravenously-injected siPA-NPs was double that of si-NPs, resulting in a >2-fold increase in siRNA biodistribution to orthotopic MDA-MB-231 mammary tumors. The increased circulation half-life of siPA-NPs was dependent upon the hydrophobic interactions of the siRNA and the NP core component and not just siRNA hydrophobization, as siPA did not contribute to improved circulation time relative to unmodified siRNA when delivered using polyplexes with a fully cationic core. Intravenous delivery of siPA-NPs also achieved significant silencing of the model gene luciferase in vivo (?40% at 24 h after one treatment and ?60% at 48 h after two treatments) in the murine MDA-MB-231 tumor model, while si-NPs only produced a significant silencing effect after two treatments. These data suggest that stabilization of PEGylated siRNA polyplexes through a combination of hydrophobic and electrostatic interactions between siRNA cargo and the polymeric carrier improves in vivo pharmacokinetics and tumor gene silencing relative to conventional formulations that are stabilized solely by electrostatic interactions.