bims-novged Biomed News
on Non-viral vectors for gene delivery
Issue of 2022‒09‒18
twelve papers selected by
the Merkel lab
Ludwig-Maximilians University

  1. Pharm Res. 2022 Sep 15.
      Nucleic acid therapeutics have shown great potential for the treatment of numerous diseases, such as genetic disorders, cancer and infections. Moreover, they have been successfully used as vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to unfold full therapeutical potential, these nano agents have to overcome several barriers. Therefore, directed transport to specific tissues and cell types remains a central challenge to receive carrier systems with enhanced efficiency and desired biodistribution profiles. Active targeting strategies include receptor-targeting, mediating cellular uptake based on ligand-receptor interactions, and chemical targeting, enabling cell-specific delivery as a consequence of chemically and structurally modified carriers. With a focus on synthetic delivery systems including polyplexes, lipid-based systems such as lipoplexes and lipid nanoparticles, and direct conjugates optimized for various types of nucleic acids (DNA, mRNA, siRNA, miRNA, oligonucleotides), we highlight recent achievements, exemplified by several nucleic acid drugs on the market, and discuss challenges for targeted delivery to different organs such as brain, eye, liver, lung, spleen and muscle in vivo.
    Keywords:  lipoplex; pDNA; polyplex; siRNA; targeting
  2. Nanoscale. 2022 Sep 12.
      Small interfering RNA (siRNA) is ideal for gene silencing through a sequence-specific RNA interference process. The redundancy and complexity of molecular pathways in cancer create a need for multiplexed targeting that can be achieved with multiplexed siRNA delivery. Here, we delivered multiplexed siRNA with a PSMA-targeted biocompatible dextran nanocarrier to downregulate CD46 and PD-L1 in PSMA expressing prostate cancer cells. The selected gene targets, PD-L1 and CD46, play important roles in the escape of cancer cells from immune surveillance. PSMA, abundantly expressed by prostate cancer cells, allowed the prostate cancer-specific delivery of the nanocarrier. The nanocarrier was modified with acid cleavable acetal bonds for a rapid release of siRNA. Cell imaging and flow cytometry studies confirmed the PSMA-specific delivery of CD46 and PD-L1 siRNA to high PSMA expressing PC-3 PIP cells. Immunoblot, qRT-PCR and flow cytometry methods confirmed the downregulation of CD46 and PD-L1 following treatment with multiplexed siRNA.
  3. Small. 2022 Sep 12. e2203823
      Although small interfering RNA (siRNA) therapy has achieved great progress, unwanted gene inhibition in normal tissues severely limits its extensive clinical applications due to uncontrolled siRNA biodistribution. Herein, a spatially controlled siRNA activation strategy is developed to achieve tumor-specific siRNA therapy without gene inhibition in the normal tissues. The quaternary ammonium moieties are conjugated to amphiphilic copolymers via reactive oxygen species (ROS)-sensitive thioketal (TK) linkers for co-delivery of siRNA and photosensitizer chlorin e6 (Ce6), showing excellent siRNA complexation capacity and near infrared (NIR)-controlled siRNA release. In the normal tissue, siRNAs are trapped and degraded in the endo-lysosomes due to the unprotonatable property of quaternary ammonium moiety, showing the siRNA activity "off" state. When NIR irradiation is spatially applied to the tumor tissue, the NIR irradiation/Ce6-induced ROS trigger siRNA endo-lysosomal escape and cytosolic release through the photochemical internalization effect and cleavage of TK bonds, respectively, showing the siRNA activity "on" state. The siRNA-mediated glutathione peroxidase 4 gene inhibition enhances ROS accumulation. The synergistic antitumor activity of Ce6 photodynamic therapy and gene inhibition is confirmed in vivo. Spatially controlled tumor-specific siRNA activation and co-delivery with Ce6 using unprotonatable and ROS-sensitive cationic nanocarriers provide a feasible strategy for tumor-specific siRNA therapy with synergistic drug effects.
    Keywords:  combined therapy; photodynamic therapy; spatially controlled endo-lysosomal escape; spatially controlled siRNA release; tumor-specific siRNA therapy; unprotonatable cationic micelles
  4. Bioorg Med Chem. 2022 Sep 05. pii: S0968-0896(22)00390-X. [Epub ahead of print]72 116997
      Arginine (Arg)-rich peptides can penetrate the cell membrane and deliver nucleic acid-based therapeutics into cells. In this study, a helical template designed with a repeating sequence composed of two l-leucines (l-Leu) and a 2-aminoisobutyric acid (Aib) (l-Leu-l-Leu-Aib) was conjugated to nona-arginine on either the C- or N- terminus, designated as Block 1 and Block 2. Each terminal modification induced helical structure formation and improved the physicochemical properties of peptide/plasmid DNA (pDNA) complexes, resulting in efficient intracellular pDNA delivery. The introduction of a helical template may be effective for the endosomal escape of pDNA and pDNA release from complexes in cells. These results emphasized the potency of a helical template for the development of novel cell-penetrating peptides for pDNA delivery.
    Keywords:  Arginine; Cell-penetrating peptide; Gene transfer; Non-proteinogenic amino acid; Plasmid DNA delivery
  5. Mol Ther. 2022 Sep 15. pii: S1525-0016(22)00563-9. [Epub ahead of print]
      Marburg virus (MARV) infection results in severe viral hemorrhagic fever with mortality rates up to 90%, and there is a pressing need for effective therapies. Here, we established an siRNA conjugate platform that enabled successful subcutaneous delivery of siRNAs targeting the MARV nucleoprotein. We identified a hexavalent mannose ligand with high affinity to macrophages and dendritic cells, which are key cellular targets of MARV infection. This ligand enabled successful siRNA conjugate delivery to macrophages both in vitro and in vivo. The delivered hexa-mannose-siRNA conjugates rendered substantial target gene silencing in macrophages when supported by a mannose functionalized endosome release polymer. This hexa-mannose-siRNA conjugate was further evaluated alongside our hepatocyte-targeting GalNAc-siRNA conjugate, to expand targeting of infected liver cells. In MARV-Angola infected guinea pigs, these platforms offered limited survival benefit when used as individual agents. However, in combination they achieved up to 100% protection when dosed 24 h post infection. This novel approach, using two different ligands to simultaneously deliver siRNA to multiple cell types relevant to infection, provides a convenient subcutaneous route of administration for treating infection by these dangerous pathogens. The mannose conjugate platform has potential application to other diseases involving macrophages and dendritic cells.
  6. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2022 Sep 14.
      MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play a pivotal role in regulating gene expression and are considered new molecular targets in bone tissue engineering. However, effective delivery of miRNAs to the defect areas and transfection of the miRNAs into osteogenic progenitor cells has been an obstacle in the application. In this work, miRNA-218 (miR-218) was used as an osteogenic miRNA regulator, and a multifunctional peptide-conjugated gene carrier poly(lactide-co-glycolide)-g-polyethylenimine-b-polyethylene glycol-R9-G4-IKVAVW (PPP-RGI) was developed to condense with miR-218 to form PPP-RGI/miR-218 complexes that were further encapsulated into monodisperse injectable microspheres for enhanced bone regeneration. The PPP-RGI was synthesized via conjugating R9-G4-IKVAVW (RGI), a multifunctional peptide, onto poly(lactide-co-glycolide)-g-polyethylenimine-b-polyethylene glycol (PPP). A microfluidic and synchronous photo-cross-linking process was further developed to encapsulate the PPP-RGI/miR-218 complexes into monodisperse gelatin methacryloyl microspheres. The monodisperse microspheres controlled the delivery of PPP-RGI/miR-218 to the designated defect site, and PPP-RGI facilitated the transfection of miR-218 into osteogenic progenitor cells. An in vivo calvarial defect model showed that the PPP-RGI/miR-218-loaded microspheres significantly enhanced bone tissue regeneration. This work provides a novel approach to effectively deliver miRNA and transfect targeting cells in vivo for advanced regenerative therapies.
    Keywords:  bone regeneration; miR-218; microfluidics; microsphere; photo-cross-linking
  7. Biomater Sci. 2022 Sep 15.
      To improve the efficiency of nucleic acid and protein delivery by cationic polymers, there is a trade-off between increasing the positive charge density of cationic polymers and decreasing cytotoxicity. In this work, a strategy to introduce multiple interactions between the cell membrane and a delivery system based on cationic polymers was proposed. A novel delivery system consisting of PEI1.8k and an enhancer (LA-RT) was fabricated. The introduction of LA-RT contributed to multiple interactions between the delivery system and the cell membrane including electrostatic interactions, hydrogen bonding, hydrophobic interaction, and dynamic sulfur exchange reactions, which enabled efficient intracellular delivery of nucleic acids and proteins. For nucleic acid delivery, plasmid DNA and mRNA were loaded to realize CRISPR/Cas 9 gene editing in vivo and protein expression in vivo, respectively. For protein delivery, the delivery system carrying OVA protein and CpG formed a nano-vaccine, which induced enhanced humoral and cellular immunity in vivo. In addition, the delivery system based on PEI1.8k revealed negligible cytotoxicity. This work provided a novel strategy to prepare efficient delivery systems based on cationic polymers via the introduction of a multifunctional enhancer.
  8. Biomater Sci. 2022 Sep 16.
      Apoptosis of cardiomyocytes is a critical outcome of myocardial ischemia-reperfusion injury (MIRI), which leads to the permanent impairment of cardiac function. Upregulated E2F1 is implicated in inducing cardiomyocyte apoptosis, and thus intervention of the E2F1 signaling pathway via RNA interference may hold promising potential for rescuing the myocardium from MIRI. To aid efficient E2F1 siRNA (siE2F1) delivery into cardiomyocytes that are normally hard to transfect, a spherical, α-helical polypeptide (SPP) with potent membrane activity was developed via dendrimer-initiated ring-opening polymerization of N-carboxyanhydride followed by side-chain functionalization with guanidines. Due to its multivalent structure, SPP outperformed its linear counterpart (LPP) to feature potent siRNA binding affinity and membrane activity. Thus, SPP effectively delivered siE2F1 into cardiomyocytes and suppressed E2F1 expression both in vitro and in vivo after intramyocardial injection. The E2F1-miR421-Pink1 signaling pathway was disrupted, thereby leading to the reduction of MIRI-induced mitochondrial damage, apoptosis, and inflammation of cardiomyocytes and ultimately recovering the systolic function of the myocardium. This study provides an example of membrane-penetrating nucleic acid delivery materials, and it also provides a promising approach for the genetic manipulation of cardiomyocyte apoptosis for the treatment of MIRI.
  9. Int J Biol Macromol. 2022 Sep 12. pii: S0141-8130(22)01993-6. [Epub ahead of print]
      Cartilage is an important tissue that is widely found in joints, ears, nose and other organs. The limited capacity to regenerate makes cartilage reconstruction an urgent clinical demand. Due to the avascular nature of cartilage, we hypothesized that inhibition of vascularization contributes to cartilage formation. Here, we used VEGFa siRNA to inhibit the infiltration of the local vascular system. Optimized lipid nanoparticles were prepared by microfluidics for the delivery of siRNA. Then, we constructed a tissue engineering scaffold. Both seed cells and VEGFa siRNA-LNPs were loaded in a GELMA hydrogel. Subcutaneous implantation experiments in nude mice indicate that this is a promising strategy for cartilage reconstruction. The regenerated cartilage was superior, with significant upregulation of SOX9, COL-II and ACAN. This is attributed to an environment deficient in oxygen and nutrients, which facilitates cartilage formation by upregulating HIF-1α and FOXO transcription factors. In conclusion, a GelMA/Cells+VEGFa siRNA-LNPs scaffold was constructed to achieve superior cartilage regeneration.
    Keywords:  Cartilage tissue engineering; GelMA hydrogel; Lipid nanoparticles; Small interfering RNA
  10. Sci Adv. 2022 Sep 16. 8(37): eabp9435
      CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing has emerged as a powerful therapeutic technology, but the lack of safe and efficient in vivo delivery systems, especially for tissue-specific vectors, limits its broad clinical applications. Delivery of Cas9 ribonucleoprotein (RNP) owns competitive advantages over other options; however, the large size of RNPs exceeds the loading capacity of currently available delivery vectors. Here, we report a previously unidentified genome editing delivery system, named exosomeRNP, in which Cas9 RNPs were loaded into purified exosomes isolated from hepatic stellate cells through electroporation. ExosomeRNP facilitated effective cytosolic delivery of RNP in vitro while specifically accumulated in the liver tissue in vivo. ExosomeRNP showed vigorous therapeutic potential in acute liver injury, chronic liver fibrosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma mouse models via targeting p53 up-regulated modulator of apoptosis (PUMA), cyclin E1 (CcnE1), and K (lysine) acetyltransferase 5 (KAT5), respectively. The developed exosomeRNP provides a feasible platform for precise and tissue-specific gene therapies of liver diseases.
  11. Small. 2022 Sep 13. e2204436
      This study presents the first messenger RNA (mRNA) therapy for metastatic ovarian cancer and cachexia-induced muscle wasting based on lipid nanoparticles that deliver follistatin (FST) mRNA predominantly to cancer clusters following intraperitoneal administration. The secreted FST protein, endogenously synthesized from delivered mRNA, efficiently reduces elevated activin A levels associated with aggressive ovarian cancer and associated cachexia. By altering the cancer cell phenotype, mRNA treatment prevents malignant ascites, delays cancer progression, induces the formation of solid tumors, and preserves muscle mass in cancer-bearing mice by inhibiting negative regulators of muscle mass. Finally, mRNA therapy provides synergistic effects in combination with cisplatin, increasing the survival of mice and counteracting muscle atrophy induced by chemotherapy and cancer-associated cachexia. The treated mice develop few nonadherent tumors that are easily resected from the peritoneum. Clinically, this nanomedicine-based mRNA therapy can facilitate complete cytoreduction, target resistance, improve resilience during aggressive chemotherapy, and improve survival in advanced ovarian cancer.
    Keywords:  cachexia; lipid nanoparticles; mRNA therapy; muscle atrophy; ovarian cancer
  12. J Oncol. 2022 ;2022 6141857
      The malignancy of lung cancer (LC) is serious in the world. Exosomes are well-known natural nanovesicles, which are reported to have the potential to carry functional miRNAs as natural carriers and deliver chemotherapeutic drugs. However, the safety and functions of the engineered exosomes for delivering miRNA for the treatment of LC remain to be evaluated. In this study, we found that miR-563 is related to lung cancer from GeneCard database. RT-qPCR and in situ hybridization (ISH) were used to assess miR-563 expression in clinical samples. We prepared and verified the engineered exosomes loaded with miR-563 both in vitro and in vivo. In vitro, flow cytometry, Western blot, and other experimental methods were performed to evaluate the antitumor effect of miR-563 loaded exosomes. In in vivo, the LC mouse model was used to observe the effect of the prepared exosomes. The safety of using this exosomes was accessed by liver function test, hematological analysis, and H&E staining in major organs of the mice. Our findings indicated that the miR-563 loaded engineered exosomes inhibit the A549 cells growth in vitro, by inhibiting the tumor cell proliferation, migration, and invasion and promoting apoptosis. In in vivo, these engineered exosomes were enriched in tumor tissue after injecting to LC model mice and impacted tumor tissue by inhibiting the tumor volume and tumor weight. Importantly, our study indicated that miR-563 loaded engineered exosomes have the potential for clinical application for LC treatment with acceptable safety profiles. Our findings indicate a novel potential therapeutic target for lung cancer patients by miR-563 loaded engineered exosomes.