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Morys, Stephan; Levacic, Ana Krhac; Urnauer, Sarah; Kempter, Susanne; Kern, Sarah; Rädler, Joachim O.; Spitzweg, Christine; Lächelt, Ulrich; Wagner, Ernst (2017): Influence of Defined Hydrophilic Blocks within Oligoaminoamide Copolymers: Compaction versus Shielding of pDNA Nanoparticles. In: Polymers, Vol. 9, No. 4, 142


Cationic polymers are promising components of the versatile platform of non-viral nucleic acid (NA) delivery agents. For a successful gene delivery system, these NA vehicles need to comprise several functionalities. This work focuses on the modification of oligoaminoamide carriers with hydrophilic oligomer blocks mediating nanoparticle shielding potential, which is necessary to prevent aggregation or dissociation of NA polyplexes in vitro, and hinder opsonization with blood components in vivo. Herein, the shielding agent polyethylene glycol (PEG) in three defined lengths (12, 24, or 48 oxyethylene repeats) is compared with two peptidic shielding blocks composed of four or eight repeats of sequential proline-alanine-serine (PAS). With both types of shielding agents, we found opposing effects of the length of hydrophilic segments on shielding and compaction of formed plasmid DNA (pDNA) nanoparticles. Two-arm oligoaminoamides with 37 cationizable nitrogens linked to 12 oxyethylene units or four PAS repeats resulted in very compact 40-50 nm pDNA nanoparticles, whereas longer shielding molecules destabilize the investigated polyplexes. Thus, the balance between sufficiently shielded but still compact and stable particles can be considered a critical optimization parameter for non-viral nucleic acid vehicles based on hydrophilic-cationic block oligomers.