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Lee, Dian-Jang; He, Dongsheng; Kessel, Eva; Padari, Kärt; Kempter, Susanne; Lächelt, Ulrich; Rädler, Joachim O.; Pooga, Margus; Wagner, Ernst (2016): Tumoral gene silencing by receptor-targeted combinatorial siRNA polyplexes. In: Journal of Controlled Release, Vol. 244: pp. 280-291
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Abstract

Small interfering RNA (siRNA) promises high efficacy and excellent specificity to silence the target gene expression, which shows potential for cancer treatment. However, systemic delivery of siRNA with selectivity to the tumor site and into the cytosol of tumor cells remains a major limitation. To achieve this, we generated oligoaminoamide-based sequence-defined polycationic oligomers by solid-phase assisted synthesis, which can form polyplexes with anionic siRNA by electrostatic interaction to serve as siRNA carrier. Targeting for folate receptor (FR)-overexpressing tumors, we optimized the physicochemical properties of polyplexes by combinatorial optimization of PEGylated folate-conjugated oligomer (for FR targeting and shielding of surface charges) and 3-arm oligomer (for size modification and particle stability). For uni-directional fast coupling between the two groups of oligomers, we activated the cysteine thiol groups of one of the oligomers with 5,5'-dithio-bis(2-nitrobenzoic acid) to achieve a fast chemical linkage through disulfide formation with the free thiol groups of the other oligomer. These targeted combinatorial polyplexes (TCPs) are homogeneous spherical particles with favorable size and surface charge, which showed strong siRNA binding activity. TCPs were internalized into cells by FR-mediated endocytosis, triggered significant eGFP-luciferase marker gene silencing, and transfection with antitumoral EG5 siRNA suppressed cell proliferation in FR-expressing tumor cells. Moreover, the most promising formulation TCP1 after i.v. administration in tumor-bearing mice exhibited siRNA delivery into the tumor, resulting in EG5 gene silencing at mRNA level. Therefore, by covalent combination of two sequence-defined functional oligomers, we developed a siRNA carrier system with optimized size and surface charge for efficient tumor cell-directed gene silencing and cytotoxicity in vitro and in vivo. (C) 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.