Polymer-lipid hybrid vesicles are an emerging type of nano-assemblies that show potential as artificial organelles among others. Phospholipids and poly(cholesteryl methacrylate)-block-poly(methionine methacryloyloxyethyl ester (METMA)-random-2-carboxyethyl acrylate (CEA)) labeled with a Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) reporter pair are used for the assembly of small and giant hybrid vesicles with homogenous distribution of both building blocks in the membrane as confirmed by the FRET effect. These hybrid vesicles have no inherent cytotoxicity when incubated with HepG2 cells up to 1.1 × 1011 hybrid vesicles per mL, and they are internalized by the cells. In contrast to the fluorescent signal originating from the block copolymer, the fluorescent signal coming from the lipids is barely detectable in cells incubated with hybrid vesicles for 6 h followed by 24 h in cell media, suggesting that the two building blocks have a different intracellular fate. These findings provide important insight into the design criteria of artificial organelles with potential structural integrity.
Keywords: FRET effect; HepG2 cells; block copolymers; hybrid vesicles; phospholipids.
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