A biodegradable nanocapsule delivers a Cas9 ribonucleoprotein complex for in vivo genome editing

Nat Nanotechnol. 2019 Oct;14(10):974-980. doi: 10.1038/s41565-019-0539-2. Epub 2019 Sep 9.


Delivery technologies for the CRISPR-Cas9 (CRISPR, clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) gene editing system often require viral vectors, which pose safety concerns for therapeutic genome editing1. Alternatively, cationic liposomal components or polymers can be used to encapsulate multiple CRISPR components into large particles (typically >100 nm diameter); however, such systems are limited by variability in the loading of the cargo. Here, we report the design of customizable synthetic nanoparticles for the delivery of Cas9 nuclease and a single-guide RNA (sgRNA) that enables the controlled stoichiometry of CRISPR components and limits the possible safety concerns in vivo. We describe the synthesis of a thin glutathione (GSH)-cleavable covalently crosslinked polymer coating, called a nanocapsule (NC), around a preassembled ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complex between a Cas9 nuclease and an sgRNA. The NC is synthesized by in situ polymerization, has a hydrodynamic diameter of 25 nm and can be customized via facile surface modification. NCs efficiently generate targeted gene edits in vitro without any apparent cytotoxicity. Furthermore, NCs produce robust gene editing in vivo in murine retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) tissue and skeletal muscle after local administration. This customizable NC nanoplatform efficiently delivers CRISPR RNP complexes for in vitro and in vivo somatic gene editing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CRISPR-Associated Protein 9 / administration & dosage*
  • CRISPR-Associated Protein 9 / genetics
  • CRISPR-Cas Systems*
  • Gene Editing*
  • Glutathione / chemistry
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Nanocapsules / chemistry*
  • Polymers / chemistry
  • RNA, Guide / administration & dosage*
  • RNA, Guide / genetics


  • Nanocapsules
  • Polymers
  • RNA, Guide
  • CRISPR-Associated Protein 9
  • Glutathione