Effective gene delivery using stimulus-responsive catiomer designed with redox-sensitive disulfide and acid-labile imine linkers

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A dual stimulus-responsive mPEG-SS-PLL15-glutaraldehyde star (mPEG-SS-PLL15-star) catiomer is developed and biologically evaluated. The catiomer system combines redox-sensitive removal of an external PEG shell with acid-induced escape from the endosomal compartment. The design rationale for PEG shell removal is to augment intracellular uptake of mPEG-SS-PLL 15-star/DNA complexes in the presence of tumor-relevant glutathione (GSH) concentration, while the acid-induced dissociation is to accelerate the release of genetic payload following successful internalization into targeted cells. Size alterations of complexes in the presence of 10 mM GSH suggest stimulus-induced shedding of external PEG layers under redox conditions that intracellularly present in the tumor microenvironment. Dynamic laser light scattering experiments under endosomal pH conditions show rapid destabilization of mPEG-SS-PLL15-star/DNA complexes that is followed by facilitating efficient release of encapsulated DNA, as demonstrated by agarose gel electrophoresis. Biological efficacy assessment using pEGFP-C1 plasmid DNA encoding green fluorescence protein and pGL-3 plasmid DNA encoding luciferase as reporter genes indicate comparable transfection efficiency of 293T cells of the catiomer with a conventional polyethyleneimine (bPEI-25k)-based gene delivery system. These experimental results show that mPEG-SS-PLL15-star represents a promising design for future nonviral gene delivery applications with high DNA binding ability, low cytotoxicity, and high transfection efficiency. © 2012 American Chemical Society.

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