bims-novged Biomed News
on Non-viral vectors for gene delivery
Issue of 2022‒06‒26
thirteen papers selected by
the Merkel lab
Ludwig-Maximilians University

  1. Mol Pharm. 2022 Jun 22.
      Protein kinase N3 (PKN3), by virtue of its abnormal expression in prostate cells, has been widely used as a target of RNAi (shRNA, siRNA, miRNA) therapy. The major challenges of PKN3 RNAi therapy lie in how to design effective interference sequences and delivery systems. Herein, new PKN3 shRNA sequences (shPKN3-2459 and shPKN3-3357) were designed, and bioreducible, biodegradable, ionizable lipid-based nanoparticles were developed for shPKN3 delivery. First, an ionizable lipid (DDA-SS-DMA) bridged with disulfide bond and ester bonds was synthesized by a three-step reaction and confirmed by MS, 1H NMR, and 13C NMR. The ionizable lipid was mixed with cholesterol, DSPC, PEG-lipid, and shPKN3 by a microfluidic mixer to prepare lipid nanoparticles (LNP-shPKN3) which were characterized by DLS and TEM. Afterward, the pH and glutathione (GSH)-responsiveness of the DDA-SS-DMA based LNP delivery system were investigated by lysosome escape and gel electrophoresis assays. Compared with the commercial transfection reagent Lipo2000, the DDA-SS-DMA based delivery system showed higher transfection efficiency and lower toxicity. Western blot analysis, invasion tests, and migration assays were performed to evaluate the silencing effect of shPKN3 in vitro. In in vivo studies, high tumor suppression (65.8%) and treatment safety were evident in the LNP-shPKN3-2459 treatment group. Taken together, the DDA-SS-DMA based delivery system encapsulating shPKN3-2459 showed significant antitumor efficacy and might be a promising formulation for the treatment of prostate cancer.
    Keywords:  RNAi therapy; delivery system; lipid nanoparticle; prostate cancer; protein kinase N3
  2. Acta Biomater. 2022 Jun 20. pii: S1742-7061(22)00369-5. [Epub ahead of print]
      Lipid-modified low molecular weight branched polyethyleneimines (PEIs) are promising non-viral gene delivery systems that have been successfully explored for treatment of various diseases. The present study aims to determine in vitro safety of these delivery systems based on assessment of cytotoxicity with peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), hemolysis with human red blood cells (RBC) and cytokine secretion from several sources of PBMCs. The viability of cells treated with lipopolymer/pDNA complexes was dependent on the polymer:pDNA ratio used but remained low at therapeutically relevant concentrations for most lipopolymers, except for the propionic acid substituted PEIs. The extent of hemolysis was minimal and below the accepted safety levels with most of the lipopolymers; however, some linoleic acid substituted PEIs yielded significant hemolysis activity. Unlike strong cytokine secretion from PMA/IO stimulated cells, most lipopolymer/pDNA complexes remained non-responsive, showing minimal changes in cytokine secretion (TNF-α, IL-6 and IFN-γ) irrespective of the lipopolymer/pDNA formulations. The 0.6 kDa PEI with lauric acid substituent displayed slight cytokine upregulation, however it remained low relative to the positive controls. This study demonstrated that the lipid modified LMW PEIs are expected to be safe in contact with blood components. However, close attention to lipopolymer concentration and ratio of polymer to pDNA in formulations might be required for individual lipopolymers for optimal safety response in nucleic acid therapies. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: : This manuscript investigated the safety aspects of various lipid modified low molecular weight polyethylenimine (LMW-PEI) polymers employed for pDNA delivery through in vitro studies. Using peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from multiple sources, we show that the hemolysis ability was minimal for most polymers, although a particular lipid substituent (linoleic acid) at specific ratios exhibited hemolysis. The levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines (TNF-α, IL-6 and IFN-γ) were slightly upregulated only with a lauric acid substituted 0.6PEI, but remained low relative to positive control treatments. We further report the beneficial effect of polyacrylic acid additives on hemolysis and cytokine secretion to a reasonable extent. This study confirms the feasibility of using LMW-PEI as safe delivery agents for various therapeutic purposes.
    Keywords:  Cytokine secretion; Hemolysis; Immune stimulation; Low molecular weight polyethyleneimine; Nucleic acid delivery
  3. Pharmaceutics. 2022 Jun 06. pii: 1205. [Epub ahead of print]14(6):
      Messenger RNA (mRNA) is emerging as a promising therapeutic modality for a variety of diseases. Because of the fragility and limited intracellular access of mRNA, the development of delivery technologies is essential for promoting the applicability of mRNA-based treatments. Among effective nanocarriers, polymeric micelles loading mRNA by polyion complex (PIC) formation with block catiomers have the potential to meet the delivery needs. Since PICs are relatively unstable in in vivo settings, herein, we constructed mRNA-loaded micelles having pH-responsive cross-linked cores by complexing mRNA with cis-aconitic anhydride-modified poly(ethylene glycol)-poly(l-lysine) (PEG-pLL(CAA)) block copolymers. The micelles were stable at physiological pH (pH 7.4) but achieved the complete release of the mRNA at endosomal pH (pH 5.5-4.5). The cross-linking also enhanced the stability of the micelles against disassembly from polyanions and protected the loaded mRNA from degradation by nucleases. Thus, the cross-linked micelles increased the delivery of mRNA to cancer cells, promoting protein expression both in vitro and in vivo. Our results highlight the potential of PEG-pLL(CAA)-based micelles for mRNA delivery.
    Keywords:  cancer; cross-linking; mRNA; nanomedicine; polymeric micelles
  4. ACS Appl Bio Mater. 2022 Jun 21.
      Broadening the applicable tools for mRNA delivery provides more flexibility in research and those proven effective and safe can potentially be translated for clinical use. We report here a 27-amino acid peptide sequence mimicking the viral capsid protein, termed pepMAX, capable of co-assembling with mRNA into 100-150 nm nanostructures for efficient transfection of multiple cell lines. The mRNA loading and N/P ratio have been systematically optimized for each cell line. In HeLa, HEK293, and SKNMC, the transfection attained (>80%) is comparable with that of commercially available vectors Lipofectamine MessengerMAXTM (LipoMMAX). Confocal microscopy reveals that pepMAX efficiently delivers mRNA into the cytosol and induces efficient protein production. The pepMAX/mRNA co-assemblies retain their transfection efficiency after storage up to one week at room temperature in lyophilized form.
    Keywords:  gene therapy; long-term storage; mRNA delivery; nanoparticle; oligopeptide
  5. Bioorg Med Chem. 2022 Jun 17. pii: S0968-0896(22)00278-4. [Epub ahead of print]69 116886
      Low molecular weight branched polyethylenimine (LMW bPEIs 1.8 kDa) have received considerable attention for the fabrication of nucleic acid carriers due to their biocompatible and non-toxic nature. However, due to the inadequate nucleic acid complexation ability and transportation across the cell membrane, these show poor transfection efficacy, limiting their clinical applications. Therefore, to overcome these challenges, in this study, we have grafted bPEI 1.8 kDa with a disulfide bond containing hydrophobic moiety, 3-(2-pyridyldithio) propionic acid (PDPA), via amide linkages through EDC/NHS-mediated coupling to obtain N-[3-(2-pyridyldithio)] propionoyl polyethylenimine (PDPP) conjugates. The best formulation for nucleic acid transfection was evaluated after preparing a series of PDPP conjugates by varying the amount of PDPA. In an aqueous environment, these PDPP conjugates self-assembled to form spherical shaped core-shell PDPP nanostructures with size ranging from ∼188-307 nm and zeta-potential from ∼ +3 to +19 mV. The positively charged surface of the core-shell nanocomposites helps in the binding of plasmid DNA (pDNA), its transportation inside the cell, and protection against enzymes. Evaluation of PDPP/pDNA complexes on mammalian cells revealed that all these complexes showed significantly improved transfection efficacy without hampering cytocompatibility. Amongst all, the pDNA complex of PDPP-2 exhibited the best transfection efficiency (i.e. >6-fold) in comparison to pDNA complex of the native bPEI. The nanocomposites exhibited the redox responsive behavior advantageous for therapeutic delivery to the tumor cells. The core of the nanostructures facilitate the encapsulation of a hydrophobic model drug, ornidazole. In vitro drug release analysis showed a faster release rate in response to a reductant mimicking the cellular environment. Altogether, these nanostructures have great potential to co-deliver both drug and gene simultaneously in response to tumor cell reductive microenvironment in vitro and could be used as the next-generation delivery system.
    Keywords:  Core-shell nanostructures; PEI; Redox responsive; Self-assembly; Transfection
  6. J Control Release. 2022 Jun 16. pii: S0168-3659(22)00347-9. [Epub ahead of print]
      Despite recent advances in the field of mRNA therapy, the lack of safe and efficacious delivery vehicles with pharmaceutically developable properties remains a major limitation. Here, we describe the systematic optimisation of lipid-peptide nanocomplexes for the delivery of mRNA in two murine cancer cell types, B16-F10 melanoma and CT26 colon carcinoma as well as NCI-H358 human lung bronchoalveolar cells. Different combinations of lipids and peptides were screened from an original lipid-peptide nanocomplex formulation for improved luciferase mRNA transfection in vitro by a multi-factorial screening approach. This led to the identification of key structural elements within the nanocomplex associated with substantial improvements in mRNA transfection efficiency included alkyl tail length of the cationic lipid, the fusogenic phospholipid, 1,2-dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoethanolamine (DOPE), and cholesterol. The peptide component (K16 GACYGLPHKFCG) was further improved by the inclusion of a linker, RVRR, that is cleavable by the endosomal enzymes cathepsin B and furin, and a hydrophobic motif (X-S-X) between the mRNA packaging (K16) and receptor targeting domains (CYGLPHKFCG). Nanocomplex transfections of a murine B16-F10 melanoma tumour supported the inclusion of cholesterol for optimal transfection in vivo as well as in vitro. In vitro transfections were also performed with mRNA encoding interleukin-15 as a potential immunotherapy agent and again, the optimised formulation with the key structural elements demonstrated significantly higher expression than the original formulation. Physicochemical characterisation of the nanocomplexes over time indicated that the optimal formulation retained biophysical properties such as size, charge and mRNA complexation efficiency for 14 days upon storage at 4 °C without the need for additional stabilising agents. In summary, we have developed an efficacious lipid-peptide nanocomplex with promising pharmaceutical development properties for the delivery of therapeutic mRNA.
    Keywords:  Lipids; Nanocomplexes; Peptides; Targeting; Transfection; mRNA
  7. Pharmaceutics. 2022 May 26. pii: 1136. [Epub ahead of print]14(6):
      Gene delivery to the cerebral cortex is challenging due to the blood brain barrier and the labile and macromolecular nature of DNA. Here we report gene delivery to the cortex using a glycol chitosan-DNA polyplex (GCP). In vitro, GCPs carrying a reporter plasmid DNA showed approximately 60% of the transfection efficiency shown by Lipofectamine lipoplexes (LX) in the U87 glioma cell line. Aiming to maximise penetration through the brain extracellular space, GCPs were coated with hyaluronidase (HYD) to form hyaluronidase-coated polyplexes (GCPH). The GCPH formulation retained approximately 50% of the in vitro hyaluronic acid (HA) digestion potential but lost its transfection potential in two-dimensional U87 cell lines. However, intranasally administered GCPH (0.067 mg kg-1 DNA) showed high levels of gene expression (IVIS imaging of protein expression) in the brain regions. In a separate experiment, involving GCP, LX and naked DNA, the intranasal administration of the GCP formulation (0.2 mg kg-1 DNA) resulted in protein expression predominantly in the cerebral cortex, while a similar dose of intranasal naked DNA led to protein expression in the cerebellum. Intranasal LX formulations did not show any evidence of protein expression. GCPs may provide a means to target protein expression to the cerebral cortex via the intranasal route.
    Keywords:  gene therapy; glycol chitosan; hyaluronidase; nose to brain delivery; polyplexes
  8. Pharmaceutics. 2022 Jun 18. pii: 1297. [Epub ahead of print]14(6):
      Polymeric and/or lipid platforms are promising tools for nucleic acid delivery into cells. We previously reported a lipid-polymer nanocarrier, named LipoParticles, consisting of polylactic acid nanoparticles surrounded by cationic lipids, and allowing the addition of mRNA and cationic LAH4-1 peptide at their surface. Although this mRNA platform has shown promising results in vitro in terms of mRNA delivery and translation, the bulk method used to prepare LipoParticles relies on a multistep and time-consuming procedure. Here, we developed an automated process using a microfluidic system to prepare LipoParticles, and we compared it to the bulk method in terms of morphology, physicochemical properties, and ability to vectorize and deliver mRNA in vitro. LipoParticles prepared by microfluidic presented a smaller size and more regular spherical shape than bulk method ones. In addition, we showed that the total lipid content in LipoParticles was dependent on the method of preparation, influencing their ability to complex mRNA. LipoParticles decorated with two mRNA/LAHA-L1 ratios (1/20, 1/5) could efficiently transfect mouse DC2.4 cells except for the automated 1/5 assay. Moreover, the 1/5 mRNA/LAHA-L1 ratio drastically reduced cell toxicity observed in 1/20 ratio assays. Altogether, this study showed that homogeneous LipoParticles can be produced by microfluidics, which represents a promising platform to transport functional mRNA into cells.
    Keywords:  LipoParticles; biodegradable polymer; bulk method; hybrid nanoparticle; liposomes; mRNA transfection; microfluidics
  9. Pharmaceutics. 2022 Jun 15. pii: 1271. [Epub ahead of print]14(6):
      In vitro transcribed mRNA for the synthesis of any given protein has shown great potential in cancer gene therapy, especially in cancer vaccines for immunotherapy. To overcome physiological barriers, such as rapid degradation by enzymatic attack and poor cellular uptake due to their large size and hydrophilic properties, many delivery carriers for mRNAs are being investigated for improving the bioavailability of mRNA. Recently, cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) have received attention as promising tools for gene delivery. In terms of their biocompatibility and the ability to target specific cells with the versatility of peptide sequences, they may provide clues to address the challenges of conventional delivery systems for cancer mRNA delivery. In this study, optimal conditions for the CPP/mRNA complexes were identified in terms of complexation capacity and N/P ratio, and protection against RNase was confirmed. When cancer cells were treated at a concentration of 6.8 nM, which could deliver the highest amount of mRNA without toxicity, the amphipathic CPP/mRNA complexes with a size less than 200 nm showed high cellular uptake and protein expression. With advances in our understanding of CPPs, CPPs designed to target tumor tissues will be promising for use in developing a new class of mRNA delivery vehicles in cancer therapy.
    Keywords:  cancer therapy; cell-penetrating peptide; mRNA; nucleic acid delivery system
  10. Biomacromolecules. 2022 Jun 24.
      Charge-altering releasable transporters (CARTs) are a class of oligonucleotide delivery vehicles shown to be effective for delivery of messenger RNA (mRNA) both in vitro and in vivo. Here, we exploited the chemical versatility of the CART synthesis to generate CARTs containing the small-molecule drug fingolimod (FTY720) as a strategy to increase mRNA delivery and expression in lymphocytes through a specific ligand-receptor interaction. Fingolimod is an FDA-approved small-molecule drug that, upon in vivo phosphorylation, binds to the sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor 1 (S1P1), which is highly expressed on lymphocytes. Compared to its non-fingolimod-conjugated analogue, the fingolimod-conjugated CART achieved superior transfection of activated human and murine T and B lymphocytes in vitro. The higher transfection of the fingolimod-conjugated CARTs was lost when cells were exposed to a free fingolimod before transfection. In vivo, the fingolimod-conjugated CART showed increased mRNA delivery to marginal zone B cells and NK cells in the spleen, relative to CARTs lacking fingolimod. Moreover, fingolimod-CART-mediated mRNA delivery induces peripheral blood T-cell depletion similar to free fingolimod. Thus, we show that functionalization of CARTs with a pharmacologically validated small molecule can increase transfection of a cellular population of interest while conferring some of the targeting properties of the conjugated small molecule to the CARTs.
  11. Carbohydr Polym. 2022 Sep 15. pii: S0144-8617(22)00596-3. [Epub ahead of print]292 119691
      A facile method was designed that can specifically deliver CRISPR/Cas9 into target cells nuclei and reduce the off-target effects. A multifunctional delivery vector for FOXM1 knockout was composed by integration of cell targeting polymer (hyaluronic acid) and cell and nuclear targeting group (AS1411 aptamer) on the surface of nanoparticles formed by genome editing plasmid and chitosan (CS) as the core (Apt-HA-CS-CRISPR/Cas9). The data of cytotoxicity experiment and western blot confirmed this issue. The results of flow cytometry analysis and fluorescence imaging demonstrated that Apt-HA-CS-CRISPR/Cas9 was significantly internalized into target cells (MCF-7, SK-MES-1, HeLa) but not into nontarget cells (HEK293). Furthermore, the in vivo studies displayed that the Apt-HA-CS-CRISPR/Cas9 was strongly rendered tumor inhibitory effect and delivered efficiently CRISPR/Cas9 into the tumor with no detectable distribution in other organs compared with naked plasmid. This approach provides an avenue for specific in vivo gene editing therapeutics with the lowest side effect.
    Keywords:  CRISPR/Cas9; Chitosan; FOXM1; Nanocomplex; Therapeutic aptamer
  12. J Control Release. 2022 Jun 18. pii: S0168-3659(22)00346-7. [Epub ahead of print]348 648-659
      The use of lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) for nucleic acid delivery is now becoming a promising strategy with a number of clinical trials as vaccines or as novel therapies against a variety of genetic and infectious diseases. The use of microfluidics for the synthesis of the LNPs has attracted interest because of its considerable advantages over other conventional synthetic methods including scalability, reproducibility, and speed. However, despite the potential usefulness of large particles for nucleic acid delivery to dendritic cells (DCs) as a vaccine, the particle size of the LNPs prepared using microfluidics is typically limited to approximately from 30 to 100 nm. In this study, focusing on Derjaguin-Landau-Verwey-Overbeek (DLVO) theory, the effect of some synthetic parameters, including total flow rate, flow rate ratio, buffer pH, lipid concentration, molar ratio of PEG-lipid as well as salt concentration, on particle size was systematically examined by means of the design of experiment approaches. The findings indicated that the simple addition of salt (e.g. NaCl) to a buffer containing nucleic acids contributed greatly to the synthesis of large LNPs over 200 nm and this effect was concentration-dependent with respect to the salt. The effect of salt on particle size was consistent with a Hofmeister series. The systemic injection of larger mRNA-loaded LNPs resulted in a higher transgene expression in mouse splenic DCs, a higher activation of various splenic immune cells, and had a superior effect as a therapeutic cancer vaccine in a syngeneic mouse model compared to the smaller-sized counterpart with constant lipid composition prepared with lower NaCl concentration. Collectively, size-regulation by the simple addition of salt is a promising strategy for developing potent LNPs.
    Keywords:  DLVO theory; Hofmeister series; Lipid nanoparticles; Microfluidic device; RNA delivery; Size-regulation
  13. J Liposome Res. 2022 Jun 22. 1-12
      At the dawn of a new nanotechnological era in the pharmaceutical field, it is very important to examine and understand all the aspects that influence in vivo behaviour of nanoparticles. In this point of view, the interactions between serum proteins and liposomes with incorporated anionic, cationic, and/or PEGylated lipids were investigated to elucidate the role of surface charge and bilayer fluidity in protein corona's formation. 1,2-dipalmitoyl-sn-glycero-3- phosphocholine (DPPC), hydrogenated soybean phosphatidylcholine (HSPC), and 1,2-dioctadecanoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DSPC) liposomes with the presence or absence of 1,2-dipalmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-phospho-(1'-rac-glycerol) (sodium salt) (DPPG), 1,2-di-(9Z-octadecenoyl)-3-trimethylammonium-propane (chloride salt) (DOTAP), and/or 1,2-dipalmitoylsn-glycero-3-phosphoethanolamine-N-[methoxy(polyethylene glycol)-5000] (DPPE-PEG 5000) lipids were prepared by the thin-film hydration method. The evaluation of their biophysical characteristics was enabled by differential scanning calorimetry and dynamic and electrophoretic light scattering. The physicochemical characteristics of mixed liposomes were compared before and after exposure to foetal bovine serum (FBS) and were correlated to calorimetric data. Our results indicate protein binding to all liposomal formulations. However, it is highlighted the importance of surface charge and fluidisation effect to the extent of protein adsorption. Additionally, considering the extensive use of cationic lipids for innovative delivery platforms, we deem PEGylation a key parameter, because even in a small proportion can reduce protein binding, and thus fast clearance and extreme toxicity without affecting positive charge. This study is a continuation of our previous work about protein-liposome interactions and fraction of stealthiness (Fs) parameter, and hopefully a design road map for drug and gene delivery.
    Keywords:  Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC); PEGylated liposomes; anionic liposomes; cationic liposomes; foetal bovine serum (FBS); opsonisation