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We demonstrate a novel serum-enhanced gene delivery approach using zwitterion-functionalized dendrimer-entrapped gold nanoparticles (Au DENPs) as a non-viral vector for inhibition of cancer cell metastasis in vitro. Poly(amidoamine) dendrimers of generation 5 decorated with zwitterion carboxybetaine acrylamide (CBAA) and lysosome-targeting agent morpholine (Mor) were utilized to entrap gold NPs. We show that both Mor-modified and Mor-free Au DENPs are cytocompatible and can effectively deliver plasmid DNA encoding different reporter genes to cancer cells in medium with or without serum. Strikingly, due to the antifouling property exerted by the attached zwitterion CBAA, the gene delivery efficiency of Mor-modified Au DENPs and the Mor-free Au DENPs in the serum-containing medium are 1.4 and 1.7 times higher than the corresponding vector in serum-free medium, respectively. In addition, the Mor-free vector has a better gene expression efficiency than the Mor-modified one although the Mor modification enables the polyplexes to have enhanced cancer cell uptake. Wound healing and hypermethylated in cancer 1 (HIC1) protein expression assay data reveal that the expression of HIC1 gene in cancer cells enables effective inhibition of cell migration. Our findings suggest that the created zwitterion-functionalized Au DENPs may be employed as a powerful vector for serum-enhanced gene therapy of different diseases. SIGNIFICANCE OF
One major challenge in the non-viral gene delivery system is that the strong interaction between serum protein and the positively charged vector/gene polyplexes neutralize the positive charge of the polyplexes and form possible protein corona, thereby significantly reducing their cellular uptake efficiency and subsequent gene transfection outcome. Here we demonstrate the conceptual advances in the serum-enhanced gene delivery using zwitterionic modification of polycationic poly(amidoamine) (PAMAM) dendrimer-entrapped gold nanoparticles (Au DENPs). We demonstrate that partial zwitterionic modification of Au DENPs is able to confer them with antifouling property to resist serum protein adsorption. Hence the vector/DNA polyplexes are able to maintain their positive potentials and small hydrodynamic size in the serum environment, where serum solely play the role as a nutrition factor for enhanced gene delivery. We demonstrate that partial modification of zwitterion carboxybetaine acrylamide (CBAA) and morpholine (Mor) onto the surface Au DENPs renders the vector with both antifouling property and lysosome targeting ability, respectively. The generated functional Au DENPs can compact pDNA to form polyplexes that enable serum-enhanced gene expression. In particular, once complexed with hypermethylated in cancer 1 (HIC1) gene, the polyplexes can significantly inhibit cancer cell migration and metastasis.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Acta biomaterialia
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