A great challenge exists in finding safe, simple, and effective delivery strategies to bring matters across cell membrane. Popular methods such as viral vectors, positively charged particles and cell penetrating peptides possess some of the following drawbacks: safety issues, lysosome trapping, limited loading capacity, and toxicity, whereas electroporation produces severe damages on both cargoes and cells. Here, we show that a serendipitously discovered, relatively nontoxic, water dispersible, stable, negatively charged, oxidized carbon nanoparticle, prepared from graphite, could deliver macromolecules into cells, without getting trapped in a lysosome. The ability of the particles to induce transient pores on lipid bilayer membranes of cell-sized liposomes was demonstrated. Delivering 12-base-long pyrrolidinyl peptide nucleic acids with d-prolyl-(1S,2S)-2-aminocyclopentanecarboxylic acid backbone (acpcPNA) complementary to the antisense strand of the NF-κB binding site in the promoter region of the Il6 gene into the macrophage cell line, RAW 264.7, by our particles resulted in an obvious accumulation of the acpcPNAs in the nucleus and decreased Il6 mRNA and IL-6 protein levels upon stimulation. We anticipate this work to be a starting point in a new drug delivery strategy, which involves the nanoparticle that can induce a transient pore on the lipid bilayer membrane.
Keywords: PNA; antigene; cellular penetration; lipid bilayer membrane; nanoparticle; oxidized carbon particle; transient pore.