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Effect of inserted spacer in hepatic cell-penetrating multifunctional peptide component on the DNA intracellular delivery of quaternary complexes based on modular design

Authors Zhang L, Li Z, Sun F, Xu YH, Du Z

Received 20 June 2016

Accepted for publication 20 September 2016

Published 24 November 2016 Volume 2016:11 Pages 6283—6295

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/IJN.S115381

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr Lei Yang


Luchen Zhang,1 Zhenbo Li,1 Fangli Sun,2 Yuhong Xu,1 Zixiu Du1

1School of Pharmacy, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, 2School of Engineering, Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University, Lin’an, Zhejiang Province, People’s Republic of China

Abstract: A safe and efficient quaternary gene delivery system (named Q-complexes) was constructed based on self-assembly of molecules through noncovalent bonds. This system was formulated through the cooperation and competing interactions of cationic liposomes, multifunctional peptides, and DNA, followed by coating hyaluronic acid on the surface of the ternary complexes. The multifunctional peptide was composed of two functional domains: penetrating hepatic tumor-targeted cell moiety (KRPTMRFRYTWNPMK) and a wrapping gene sequence (polyarginine 16). The effect of spacer insertion between the two domains of multifunctional peptide on the intracellular transfection of Q-complexes was further studied. Experimental results showed that the formulations assembled with various peptides in the spacer elements possessed different intercellular pathways and transfection efficiencies. The Q-complexes containing peptide in the absence of spacer element (Pa) showed the highest gene expression among all samples. The Q-complexes containing peptides with a noncleavable spacer GA (Pc) had no ability of intracellular nucleic acid delivery, whereas those with a cleavable spacer RVRR (Pd) showed moderate transfection activity. These results demonstrated that the different spacers inserted in the multifunctional peptide played an important role in in vitro DNA transfection efficiency. Atomic force microscopy images showed that the morphologies of ternary complexes (LPcD) and Q-complexes (HLcPD) were crystal lamellas, whereas those of other nanocomplexes were spheres. Circular dichroism showed the changed configuration of peptide with spacer GA in nanocomplexes compared with that of its free state, whereas the Pa configuration without spacer in nanocomplexes was consistent with that of its free state. The present study contributed to the structural understanding of Q-complexes, and further effective modification is in progress.

Keywords: Q-complexes, spacer elements, multifunctional peptides, lipid component, intracellular transfection

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