Translation potential of RNA interference nanotherapeutics remains challenging due to in vivo off-target effects and poor endosomal escape. Here, we developed novel polyplexes for controlled intracellular delivery of dicer substrate siRNA, using a light activation approach. Sulfonated polyethylenimines covalently linked to pyropheophorbide-α for photoactivation and bearing modified amines (sulfo-pyro-PEI) for regulated endosomal escape were investigated. Gene knock-down by the polymer-complexed DsiRNA duplexes (siRNA-NPs) was monitored in breast cancer cells. Surprisingly, sulfo-pyro-PEI/siRNA-NPs failed to downregulate the PLK1 or eGFP proteins. However, photoactivation of these cell associated-polyplexes with a 661-nm laser clearly restored knock-down of both proteins. In contrast, protein down-regulation by non-sulfonated pyro-PEI/siRNA-NPs occurred without any laser treatments, indicating cytoplasmic disposition of DsiRNA followed a common intracellular release mechanism. Therefore, sulfonated pyro-PEI holds potential as a unique trap and release light-controlled delivery platform for on-demand gene silencing bearing minimal off target effects.
Keywords: Endosomal escape; Photosensitizer; Polymer; RNA interference; siRNA delivery.
Published by Elsevier Inc.