Membrane and Nuclear Permeabilization by Polymeric pDNA Vehicles: Efficient Method for Gene Delivery or Mechanism of Cytotoxicity?
ABSTRACT The aim of this study is to compare the cytotoxicity mechanisms of linear PEI to two analogous polymers synthesized by our group: a hydroxyl-containing poly(l-tartaramidoamine) (T4) and a version containing an alkyl chain spacer poly(adipamidopentaethylenetetramine) (A4) by studying the cellular responses to polymer transfection. We have also synthesized analogues of T4 with different molecular weights (degrees of polymerization of 6, 12, and 43) to examine the role of molecular weight on the cytotoxicity mechanisms. Several mechanisms of polymer-induced cytotoxicity are investigated, including plasma membrane permeabilization, the formation of potentially harmful polymer degradation products during transfection including reactive oxygen species, and nuclear membrane permeabilization. We hypothesized that since cationic polymers are capable of disrupting the plasma membrane, they may also be capable of disrupting the nuclear envelope, which could be a potential mechanism of how the pDNA is delivered into the nucleus (other than nuclear envelope breakdown during mitosis). Using flow cytometry and confocal microscopy, we show that the polycations with the highest amount of protein expression and toxicity, PEI and T4(43), are capable of inducing nuclear membrane permeability. This finding is important for the field of nucleic acid delivery in that direct nucleus permeabilization could be not only a mechanism for pDNA nuclear import but also a potential mechanism of cytotoxicity and cell death. We also show that the production of reactive oxygen species is not a main mechanism of cytotoxicity, and that the presence or absence of hydroxyl groups and polymer length play a role in polyplex size and charge in addition to protein expression efficiency and toxicity.
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ABSTRACT: Superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) are currently unavailable as MRI contrast agents for detecting atherosclerosis in the clinical setting because of either low signal enhancement or safety concerns. Therefore, a new generation of SPIONs with increased circulation time, enhanced image contrast, and less cytotoxicity is essential. In this study, monodisperse SPIONs were synthesized and coated with polyethylene glycol (PEG) of varying molecular weights. The resulting PEGylated SPIONs were characterized, and their interactions with vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) were examined. SPIONs were tested at different concentrations (100 and 500 ppm Fe) for stability, T2 contrast, cytotoxicity, and cellular uptake to determine an optimal formulation for in vivo use. We found that at 100 ppm Fe, the PEG 2 K SPIONs showed adequate stability and magnetic contrast, and exhibited the least cytotoxicity and nonspecific cellular uptake. An increase in cell viability was observed when the SPION-treated cells were washed with PBS after one hour incubation compared to 5 and 24 hour incubation without washing. Our investigation provides insight into the potential safe application of SPIONs in the clinic.Colloids and surfaces B: Biointerfaces 07/2014; DOI:10.1016/j.colsurfb.2014.04.027 · 4.29 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The promise of cancer gene therapeutics is hampered by difficulties in the in vivo delivery to the targeted tumor cells, and systemic delivery remains to be the biggest challenge to be overcome. Here, we concentrate on systemic in vivo gene delivery for cancer therapy using nonviral vectors. In this review, we summarize the existing delivery barriers together with the requirements and strategies to overcome these problems. We will also introduce the current progress in the design of nonviral vectors, and briefly discuss their safety issues.Molecular Therapy 04/2012; 20(7):1298-304. DOI:10.1038/mt.2012.79 · 6.43 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Cationic polymers are commonly used to transfect mammalian cells, but their mechanisms of DNA delivery are unknown. This study seeks to decipher the mechanism by which plasmid DNA delivered by a class of cationic polymers traffics to and enters the nucleus. While studies have been performed to elucidate the mechanism of naked plasmid DNA (pDNA) import into the nuclei of mammalian cells, our objectives were to determine the effects of polymer complexation on pDNA nuclear import and the impact of polymer structure on that import. We have performed studies in whole cells and in isolated nuclei using flow cytometry and confocal microscopy to characterize how polymer-DNA complexes (polyplexes) are able to deliver their pDNA cargo to the nuclei of their target cells. The polymers tested herein include (i) linear poly(ethylenimine) (JetPEI), a polyamine, and (ii) two poly(glycoamidoamine)s (PGAAs), polyamines that contain carbohydrate moieties (meso-galactarate, Glycofect (G4), and l-tartarate, T4) within their repeat units. Our results indicate that, when complexed with the PGAAs, pDNA association with the nuclei was severely hampered in isolated nuclei compared to whole cells. When the pDNA was complexed with JetPEI, there was slight inhibition of pDNA-nuclear interaction in isolated nuclei compared to whole cells. However, even in the case of PEI, the amount of pDNA imported into the nucleus increases in the presence of cytosolic extract, thus indicating that intracellular components also play a role in pDNA nuclear import for all polymers tested. Interestingly, PEI and G4 exhibit the highest reporter gene expression as well as inducing higher envelope permeability compared to T4, suggesting that the ability to directly permeabilize the nuclear envelope may play a role in increasing expression efficiency. In addition, both free T4 and G4 polymers are able to cross the nuclear membrane without their pDNA cargo in isolated nuclei, indicating the possibility of different modes of nuclear association for free polymers vs polyplexes. These results yield insight to how the incorporation of carbohydrate moieties influences intracellular mechanisms and will prove useful in the rational design of safe and effective polymer-based gene delivery vehicles for clinical use.Molecular Pharmaceutics 06/2012; 9(8). DOI:10.1021/mp300142d · 4.79 Impact Factor