DNA condensation, endosomal escape of DNA/polymeric complexes, and unpacking of DNA are the key steps in the process of non-viral gene delivery. Amongst these steps, currently the unpacking of the DNA cargo from the DNA/polymeric nanocomplexes is the most challenging and arguably the most crucial if one wants to achieve high gene transfection with minimum cytotoxicity in the target cell. In this report we review current and past examples in the literature that demonstrate concerted efforts in designing and synthesizing various forms of cationic polymeric vectors having “built in” features. Such features can be certain types of chemical functional groups, such as amines and acids or other degradable bonds like esters, carbonates and disulfides, which allow for breakdown of polymeric vectors in certain cellular compartments. This may lead the DNA cargo to dissociate from the DNA/polymer complexes so as to maximize intracellular gene delivery. Furthermore, we provide further evidence that it is possible to achieve the goal of high gene transfection coupled with low cytotoxicity via rational design and formulation of branched polyamidoamines containing disulfide bonds. The DNA binding ability of these polymers and particle size as well as zeta potential of their DNA complexes were investigated. The cytotoxicity of pure polymer and polymer/DNA complexes at various polymer concentrations was studied in HEK293 human embryonic kidney, HepG2 human liver carcinoma, 4T1 mouse breast cancer and HeLa human cervical cancer cell lines. In vitro gene transfection efficiency induced by polymer/DNA complexes was explored in these cell lines by using luciferase and GFP reporter genes in comparison with PEI.
Keywords: DNA unpacking, poly(amido amine), disulfide, gene delivery, cytotoxicity
Rights & PermissionsPrintExport