Development of cell-penetrating peptide-modified MPEG-PCL diblock copolymeric nanoparticles for systemic gene delivery

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To develop a safe and efficient systemic non-viral gene vector, methoxy poly(ethylene glycol) (MPEG)/poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL) diblock copolymers conjugated with a Tat analog through the ester or disulfide linkage were synthesized and their suitability as a systemic non-viral gene carrier evaluated. The physicochemical properties of the MPEG-PCL diblock copolymers were determined by GPC, 1H NMR and FT-IR spectroscopy. The particle sizes and in vitro (COS7 and S-180 cells) transfection efficiencies and cytotoxicity were evaluated. Furthermore, the luciferase activity was then determined in various tissues after intravenous injection of MPEG-PCL-SS-Tat/pCMV-Luc complex into mice bearing S-180 cells. The particle sizes of the MPEG-PCL-Tat copolymers with or without pDNA were about 40 and 60 nm, respectively. The luciferase activity in COS7 cells transfected with pCMV-Luc with MPEG-PCL-ester-Tat or MPEG-PCL-SS-Tat was higher than that with pDNA only. MPEG-PCL-SS-Tat greatly increased the transfection efficiency compared to MPEG-PCL-ester-Tat in COS7 and S-180 cells. In an in vitro cytotoxicity test MPEG-PCL-SS-Tat did not induce any remarkable cytotoxicity. In an in vivo experiment, the synthesized MPEG-PCL-SS-Tat copolymers promoted the delivery and expression of pDNA into tumor tissue in tumor-bearing mice. In conclusion, this vector might be applicable as a tumor-targeting non-viral systemic gene carrier in the clinical setting.

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