Monomolecular assembly of siRNA and poly(ethylene glycol)-peptide copolymers

Biomacromolecules. 2008 Feb;9(2):724-32. doi: 10.1021/bm7011482. Epub 2008 Jan 26.


In this work, we design and investigate the complex formation of highly uniform monomolecular siRNA complexes utilizing block copolymers consisting of a cationic peptide moiety covalently bound to a poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) moiety. The aim of the study was to design a shielded siRNA construct containing a single siRNA molecule to achieve a sterically stabilized complex with enhanced diffusive properties in macromolecular networks. Using a 14 lysine-PEG (K14-PEG) linear diblock copolymer, formation of monomolecular siRNA complexes with a stoichiometric 1:3 grafting density of siRNA to PEG is realized. Alternatively, similar PEGylated monomolecular siRNA particles are achieved through complexation with a graft copolymer consisting of six cationic peptide side chains bound to a PEG backbone. The hydrodynamic radii of the resulting complexes as measured by fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) were found to be in good agreement with theoretical predictions using polymer brush scaling theory of a PEG decorated rodlike molecule. It is furthermore demonstrated that the PEG coating of the siRNA-PEG complexes can be rendered biodegradable through the use of a pH-sensitive hydrazone or a reducible disulfide bond linker between the K14 and the PEG blocks. To model transport under in vivo conditions, diffusion of these PEGylated siRNA complexes is studied in various charged and uncharged matrix materials. In PEG solutions, the diffusion coefficient of the siRNA complex is observed to decrease with increasing polymer concentration, in agreement with theory of probe diffusion in semidilute solutions. In charged networks, the behavior is considerably more complex. FCS measurements in fibrin gels indicate complete dissociation of the diblock copolymer from the complex, while transport in collagen solutions results in particle aggregation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Macromolecular Substances / chemical synthesis
  • Peptides / chemical synthesis*
  • Polyethylene Glycols / chemical synthesis*
  • Polymers / chemical synthesis*
  • RNA, Small Interfering / chemical synthesis*


  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Peptides
  • Polymers
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Polyethylene Glycols