Among non-viral vectors, cationic polymers, such as poly(propylene imine) (PPI), play a prominent role in nucleic acid delivery. However, limitations of polycationic polymer-based DNA delivery systems are (i) insufficient target specificity, (ii) unsatisfactory transgene expression, and (iii) undesired transfer of therapeutic DNA into non-target cells. We developed single-chain antibody fragment (scFv)-directed hybrid polyplexes for targeted gene therapy of prostate stem cell antigen (PSCA)-positive tumors. Besides mono-biotinylated PSCA-specific single-chain antibodies (scFv(AM1-P-BAP)) conjugated to neutravidin, the hybrid polyplexes comprise β-cyclodextrin-modified PPI as well as biotin/maltose-modified PPI as carriers for minicircle DNAs encoding for Sleeping Beauty transposase and a transposon encoding the gene of interest. The PSCA-specific hybrid polyplexes efficiently delivered a GFP gene in PSCA-positive tumor cells, whereas control hybrid polyplexes showed low gene transfer efficiency. In an experimental gene therapy approach, targeted transposition of a codon-optimized p53 into p53-deficient HCT116p53-/-/PSCA cells demonstrated decreased clonogenic survival when compared to mock controls. Noteworthily, p53 transposition in PTEN-deficient H4PSCA glioma cells caused nearly complete loss of clonogenic survival. These results demonstrate the feasibility of combining tumor-targeting hybrid polyplexes and Sleeping Beauty gene transposition, which, due to the modular design, can be extended to other target genes and tumor entities.
Keywords: DNA delivery; p53; poly(propylene imine); β-cyclodextrin.