Many important biological applications of peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) target nucleic acid binding in eukaryotic cells, which requires PNA translocation across at least one membrane barrier. The delivery challenge is further exacerbated for applications in whole organisms, where clearance mechanisms rapidly deplete and/or deactivate exogenous agents. We have demonstrated that nanoparticles (NPs) composed of biodegradable polymers can encapsulate and release PNAs (alone or with co-reagents) in amounts sufficient to mediate desired effects in vitro and in vivo without deleterious reactions in the recipient cell or organism. For example, poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) NPs can encapsulate and deliver PNAs and accompanying reagents to mediate gene editing outcomes in cells and animals, or PNAs alone to target oncogenic drivers in cells and correct cancer phenotypes in animal models. In this chapter, we provide a primer on PNA-induced gene editing and microRNA targeting-the two PNA-based biotechnological applications where NPs have enhanced and/or enabled in vivo demonstrations-as well as an introduction to the PLGA material and detailed protocols for formulation and robust characterization of PNA/DNA-laden PLGA NPs.
Keywords: Anti-microRNA (antimiR); Gene editing; Nanoparticles (NP); Peptide nucleic acid (PNA); Poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA).