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Movassaghian, Sara; Xie, Yuran; Hildebrandt, Claudia; Rosati, Rayna; Li, Ying; Kim, Na Hyung; Conti, Denise S.; Rocha, Sandro R. P. da; Yang, Zeng-Quan; Merkel, Olivia M. (2016): Post-Transcriptional Regulation of the GASC1 Oncogene with Active Tumor-Targeted siRNA-Nanoparticles. In: Molecular Pharmaceutics, Vol. 13, No. 8: pp. 2605-2621
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Basal-like breast cancer (BLBC) accounts for the most aggressive types of breast cancer, marked by high rates of relapse and poor prognoses and with no effective clinical therapy yet. Therefore, investigation of new targets and treatment strategies is more than necessary. Here, we identified a receptor that can be targeted in BLBC for efficient and specific siRNA mediated gene knockdown of therapeutically relevant genes such as the histone demethylase GASC1, which is involved in multiple signaling pathways leading to tumorigenesis. Breast cancer and healthy breast cell lines were compared regarding transferrin receptor (TfR) expression via flow cytometry and transferrin binding assays. Nanobioconjugates made of low molecular weight polyethylenimine (LMW-PEI) and transferrin (Tf) were synthesized to contain a bioreducible disulfide bond. siRNA complexation was characterized by condensation assays and dynamic light scattering. Cytotoxicity, transfection efficiency, and the targeting specificity of the conjugates were investigated in TfR positive and negative healthy breast and breast cancer cell lines by flow cytometry, confocal microscopy, RT-PCR, and Western blot. Breast cancer cell lines revealed a significantly higher TfR expression than healthy breast cells. The conjugates efficiently condensed siRNA into particles with 45 nm size at low polymer concentrations, showed no apparent toxicity on different breast cancer cell lines, and had significantly greater transfection and gene knockdown activity on mRNA and protein levels than PEI/siRNA leading to targeted and therapeutic growth inhibition post GASC1 knockdown. The synthesized nanobioconjugates improved the efficiency of gene transfer and targeting specificity in transferrin receptor positive cells but not in cells with basal receptor expression. Therefore, these materials in combination with our newly identified siRNA sequences are promising candidates for therapeutic targeting of hard-to-treat BLBC and are currently further investigated regarding in vivo targeting efficacy and biocompatibility.