The Impact of Nylon-3 Copolymer Composition on the Efficiency of siRNA Delivery to Glioblastoma Cells.
ABSTRACT: Glioblastoma multiforme is a devastating disease that has attracted enormous attention due to poor prognosis and high recurrence. Small interfering RNA (siRNA) in principle offers a promising therapeutic approach by the downregulation of disease-related genes via RNA interference. For efficient siRNA delivery to target sites, cationic polymers are often used in preclinical studies for the protection of siRNA and complex formation based on electrostatic interactions. In an effort to develop biocompatible and efficient nanocarriers with a translational outlook for optimal gene silencing at reduced toxicity, we synthesized two sets of nylon-3 copolymers with variable cationic content (DM or NM monomer) and hydrophobic subunits (CP monomer) and evaluated their suitability for in vitro siRNA delivery into glioblastoma cells. DM0.4/CP0.6 and NM0.4/CP0.6 polymers with similar subunit ratios were synthesized to compare the effect of different cationic subunits. Additionally, we utilized NM0.2/CP0.8 polymers to evaluate the impact of the different hydrophobic content in the polymer chain. The siRNA condensation ability and polymer-siRNA complex stability was evaluated by unmodified and modified SYBR gold assays, respectively. Further physicochemical characteristics, e.g., particle size and surface charge, were evaluated by dynamic light scattering and laser Doppler anemometry, whereas a relatively new method for polyplex size distribution analysis-tunable resistive pulse sensing-was additionally developed and compared to DLS measurements. Transfection efficiencies, the route of cell internalization, and protein knockdown abilities in glioblastoma cells were investigated by flow cytometry. Furthermore, cellular tolerability was evaluated by MTT and LDH assays. All the polymers efficiently condensed siRNA at N/P ratios of three, whereas polymers with NM cationic subunits demonstrated smaller particle size and lower polyplex stability. Furthermore, NM0.2/CP0.8 polyplexes with the highest hydrophobic content displayed significantly higher cellular internalization in comparison to more cationic formulations and successful knockdown capabilities. Detailed investigations of the cellular uptake route demonstrated that these polyplexes mainly follow clathrin-mediated endocytotic uptake mechanisms, implying high interaction capacity with cellular membranes. Taken together with conducive toxicity profiles, highly hydrophobic nylon-3 polymers provide an appropriate siRNA delivery agent for the potential treatment of glioblastoma.
Project description:Amphiphilic nucleic acid carriers have attracted strong interest. Three groups of nylon-3 copolymers (poly-?-peptides) possessing different cationic/hydrophobic content were evaluated as siRNA delivery agents in this study. Their ability to condense siRNA was determined in SYBR Gold assays. Their cytotoxicity was tested by MTT assays, their efficiency of delivering Alexa Fluor-488-labeled siRNA intracellularly in the presence and absence of uptake inhibitors was assessed by flow cytometry, and their transfection efficacies were studied by luciferase knockdown in a cell line stably expressing luciferase (H1299/Luc). Endosomal release was determined by confocal laser scanning microscopy and colocalization with lysotracker. All polymers efficiently condensed siRNA at nitrogen-to-phosphate (N/P) ratios of 5 or lower, as reflected in hydrodynamic diameters smaller than that at N/P 1. Although several formulations had negative zeta potentials at N/P 1, G2C and G2D polyplexes yielded >80% uptake in H1299/Luc cells, as determined by flow cytometry. Luciferase knockdown (20-65%) was observed after transfection with polyplexes made of the high molecular weight polymers that were the most hydrophobic. The ability of nylon-3 polymers to deliver siRNA intracellularly even at negative zeta potential implies that they mediate transport across cell membranes based on their amphiphilicity. The cellular uptake route was determined to strongly depend on the presence of cholesterol in the cell membrane. These polymers are, therefore, very promising for siRNA delivery at reduced surface charge and toxicity. Our study identified nylon-3 formulations at low N/P ratios for effective gene knockdown, indicating that nylon-3 polymers are a new, promising type of gene delivery agent.
Project description:The successful application of gene therapy relies on the development of safe and efficient delivery vectors. Cationic polymers such as cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) can condense genetic material into nanoscale particles, called polyplexes, and induce cellular uptake. With respect to this point, several aspects of the nanoscale structure of polyplexes have remained elusive because of the difficulty in visualizing the molecular arrangement of the two components with nanometer resolution. This limitation has hampered the rational design of polyplexes based on direct structural information. Here, we used super-resolution imaging to study the structure and molecular composition of individual CPP-mRNA polyplexes with nanometer accuracy. We use two-color direct stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (dSTORM) to unveil the impact of peptide stoichiometry on polyplex structure and composition and to assess their destabilization in blood serum. Our method provides information about the size and composition of individual polyplexes, allowing the study of such properties on a single polyplex basis. Furthermore, the differences in stoichiometry readily explain the differences in cellular uptake behavior. Thus, quantitative dSTORM of polyplexes is complementary to the currently used characterization techniques for understanding the determinants of polyplex activity in vitro and inside cells.
Project description:Combining multiple stimuli-responsive functionalities into the polymer design is an attractive approach to improve nucleic acid delivery. However, more in-depth fundamental understanding how the multiple functionalities in the polymer structures are influencing polyplex formation and stability is essential for the rational development of such delivery systems. Therefore, in this study the structure and dynamics of thermosensitive polyplexes were investigated by tracking the behavior of labeled plasmid DNA (pDNA) and polymer with time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy using fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET). The successful synthesis of a heterofunctional poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) macroinitiator containing both an atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) and reversible addition-fragmentation chain-transfer (RAFT) initiator is reported. The use of this novel PEG macroinitiator allows for the controlled polymerization of cationic and thermosensitive linear triblock copolymers and labeling of the chain-end with a fluorescent dye by maleimide-thiol chemistry. The polymers consisted of a thermosensitive poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAM, N), hydrophilic PEG (P), and cationic poly(2-(dimethylamino)ethyl methacrylate) (PDMAEMA, D) block, further referred to as NPD. Polymer block D chain-ends were labeled with Cy3, while pDNA was labeled with FITC. The thermosensitive NPD polymers were used to prepare pDNA polyplexes, and the effect of the N/P charge ratio, temperature, and composition of the triblock copolymer on the polyplex properties were investigated, taking nonthermosensitive PD polymers as the control. FRET was observed both at 4 and 37 °C, indicating that the introduction of the thermosensitive PNIPAM block did not compromise the polyplex structure even above the polymer's cloud point. Furthermore, FRET results showed that the NPD- and PD-based polyplexes have a less dense core compared to polyplexes based on cationic homopolymers (such as PEI) as reported before. The polyplexes showed to have a dynamic character meaning that the polymer chains can exchange between the polyplex core and shell. Mobility of the polymers allow their uniform redistribution within the polyplex and this feature has been reported to be favorable in the context of pDNA release and subsequent improved transfection efficiency, compared to nondynamic formulations.
Project description:In regard to gene vectors for cancer gene therapy, their percolation into the tumor tissue should be essential for successful outcome. Here, we studied the tumor penetrability of nonviral vectors (polyplexes) after incubation with the multicellular tumor spheroid (MCTS) models and intratumoral (i.t.) injection into subcutaneous tumors. As a result, polyethylene glycolated (PEGylated), core-shell type polyplexes (polyplex micelles) showed facilitated percolation and improved transfection inside the tumor tissue, whereas conventional polyplexes from cationic polymers exhibited limited percolation and localized transfection. Furthermore, the transfection of hypoxia-responsive plasmid demonstrated that polyplex micelles allowed the transfection to the hypoxic region of the tumor tissue in both in vitro and in vivo experiments. To the best of our knowledge, our results demonstrated for the first time that polyplex micelles might show improved tumor penetrability over cationic polyplexes, thereby achieving transfection into the inside of the tumor tissue.
Project description:Although siRNA-based nanomedicines hold promise for cancer treatment, conventional siRNA-polymer complex (polyplex) nanocarrier systems have poor pharmacokinetics following intravenous delivery, hindering tumor accumulation. Here, we determined the impact of surface chemistry on the in vivo pharmacokinetics and tumor delivery of siRNA polyplexes. A library of diblock polymers was synthesized, all containing the same pH-responsive, endosomolytic polyplex core-forming block but different corona blocks: 5 kDa (benchmark) and 20 kDa linear polyethylene glycol (PEG), 10 kDa and 20 kDa brush-like poly(oligo ethylene glycol), and 10 kDa and 20 kDa zwitterionic phosphorylcholine-based polymers (PMPC). In vitro, it was found that 20 kDa PEG and 20 kDa PMPC had the highest stability in the presence of salt or heparin and were the most effective at blocking protein adsorption. Following intravenous delivery, 20 kDa PEG and PMPC coronas both extended circulation half-lives 5-fold compared to 5 kDa PEG. However, in mouse orthotopic xenograft tumors, zwitterionic PMPC-based polyplexes showed highest in vivo luciferase silencing (>75% knockdown for 10 days with single IV 1 mg/kg dose) and 3-fold higher average tumor cell uptake than 5 kDa PEG polyplexes (20 kDa PEG polyplexes were only 2-fold higher than 5 kDa PEG). These results show that high molecular weight zwitterionic polyplex coronas significantly enhance siRNA polyplex pharmacokinetics without sacrificing polyplex uptake and bioactivity within tumors when compared to traditional PEG architectures.
Project description:A rationally-designed library of ternary siRNA polyplexes was developed and screened for gene silencing efficacy in vitro and in vivo with the goal of overcoming both cell-level and systemic delivery barriers. [2-(dimethylamino)ethyl methacrylate] (DMAEMA) was homopolymerized or copolymerized (50mol% each) with butyl methacrylate (BMA) from a reversible addition - fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) chain transfer agent, with and without pre-conjugation to polyethylene glycol (PEG). Both single block polymers were tested as core-forming units, and both PEGylated, diblock polymers were screened as corona-forming units. Ternary siRNA polyplexes were assembled with varied amounts and ratios of core-forming polymers to PEGylated corona-forming polymers. The impact of polymer composition/ratio, hydrophobe (BMA) placement, and surface PEGylation density was correlated to important outcomes such as polyplex size, stability, pH-dependent membrane disruptive activity, biocompatibility, and gene silencing efficiency. The lead formulation, DB4-PDB12, was optimally PEGylated not only to ensure colloidal stability (no change in size by DLS between 0 and 24h) and neutral surface charge (0.139mV) but also to maintain higher cell uptake (>90% positive cells) than the most densely PEGylated particles. The DB4-PDB12 polyplexes also incorporated BMA in both the polyplex core- and corona-forming polymers, resulting in robust endosomolysis and in vitro siRNA silencing (~85% protein level knockdown) of the model gene luciferase across multiple cell types. Further, the DB4-PDB12 polyplexes exhibited greater stability, increased blood circulation time, reduced renal clearance, increased tumor biodistribution, and greater silencing of luciferase compared to our previously-optimized, binary parent formulation following intravenous (i.v.) delivery. This polyplex library approach enabled concomitant optimization of the composition and ratio of core- and corona-forming polymers (indirectly tuning PEGylation density) and identification of a ternary nanomedicine optimized to overcome important siRNA delivery barriers in vitro and in vivo.
Project description:Cationic gene delivery agents (vectors) are important for delivering nucleotides, but are also responsible for cytotoxicity. Cationic polymers (L-PEI, jetPEI, and G5 PAMAM) at 1× to 100× the concentrations required for translational activity (protein expression) induced the same increase in plasma membrane current of HEK 293A cells (30-50 nA) as measured by whole cell patch-clamp. This indicates saturation of the cell membrane by the cationic polymers. The increased currents induced by the polymers are not reversible for over 15 min. Irreversibility on this time scale is consistent with a polymer-supported pore or carpet model and indicates that the cell is unable to clear the polymer from the membrane. For polyplexes, although the charge concentration was the same (at N/P ratio of 10:1), G5 PAMAM and jetPEI polyplexes induced a much larger current increase (40-50 nA) than L-PEI polyplexes (<20 nA). Both free cationic lipid and lipid polyplexes induced a lower increase in current than cationic polymers (<20 nA). To quantify the membrane bound material, partition constants were measured for both free vectors and polyplexes into the HEK 293A cell membrane using a dye influx assay. The partition constants of free vectors increased with charge density of the vectors. Polyplex partition constants did not show such a trend. The long lasting cell plasma permeability induced by exposure to the polymer vectors or the polyplexes provides a plausible mechanism for the toxicity and inflammatory response induced by exposure to these materials.
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:PURPOSE: Knowledge about the uptake mechanism and subsequent intracellular routing of non-viral gene delivery systems is important for the development of more efficient carriers. In this study we compared two established cationic polymers pDMAEMA and PEI with regard to their transfection efficiency and mechanism of cellular uptake. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The effects of several inhibitors of particular cellular uptake routes on the uptake of polyplexes and subsequent gene expression in COS-7 cells were investigated using FACS and transfection. Moreover, cellular localization of fluorescently labeled polyplexes was assessed by spectral fluorescence microscopy. RESULTS: Both pDMAEMA- and PEI-complexed DNA showed colocalization with fluorescently-labeled transferrin and cholera toxin after internalization by COS-7 cells, which indicates uptake via the clathrin- and caveolae-dependent pathways. Blocking either routes of uptake with specific inhibitors only resulted in a marginal decrease in polyplex uptake, which may suggest that uptake routes of polyplexes are interchangeable. Despite the marginal effect of inhibitors on polyplex internalization, blocking the caveolae-mediated uptake route resulted in an almost complete loss of polyplex-mediated gene expression, whereas gene expression was not negatively affected by blocking the clathrin-dependent route of uptake. CONCLUSIONS: These results show the importance of caveolae-mediated uptake for successful gene expression and have implications for the rational design of non-viral gene delivery systems.
Project description:Nylon-3 polymers have a polyamide backbone reminiscent of that found in proteins (?- vs ?-amino acid residues, respectively), which makes these materials interesting for biological applications. Because of the versatility of the ring-opening polymerization process and the variety of ?-lactam starting materials available, the structure of nylon-3 copolymers is highly amenable to alteration. A previous study showed that relatively subtle changes in the structure or ratio of hydrophobic and cationic subunits that comprise these polymers can result in significant changes in the ability of nylon-3-bearing surfaces to support cell adhesion and spreading. In the present study, we have exploited the highly tailorable nature of these polymers to synthesize new versions possessing a wide range of chain lengths, with the intent of optimizing these materials for use as cell-supportive substrates. We find that longer nylon-3 chains lead to better fibroblast attachment on modified surfaces and that at the optimal chain lengths less hydrophobic subunits are superior. The best polymers we identified are comparable to an RGD-containing peptide in supporting fibroblast attachment. The results described here will help to focus future efforts aimed at refining nylon-3 copolymer substrates for specific tissue engineering applications.