Design of Liposome Formulations for CRISPR/Cas9 Enzyme Immobilization: Evaluation of 5-Alpha-Reductase Enzyme Knockout for Androgenic Disorders

ACS Omega. 2023 Nov 20;8(48):46101-46112. doi: 10.1021/acsomega.3c07138. eCollection 2023 Dec 5.


The enzyme steroid type II 5-alpha-reductase (SRD5α2) is responsible for the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is involved in prostate cancer, benign prostatic hyperplasia, and androgenic alopecia. Inhibition of SRD5α2 activity has been explored and presented as a potential treatment for these conditions, but current drugs have side effects and alternative treatment approaches are needed. The CRISPR/Cas9 system, an innovative gene-editing tool, shows potential for targeting the SRD5α2 gene knockout as a therapeutic approach. Liposomes have been used for the immobilization and delivery of different proteins, and studies have shown that liposomes can enhance the stability and activity of enzymes. In this study, we provided the immobilization of Cas9 protein by encapsulating it in a novel cationic liposome formulation that carries sgRNA on its outer surface for gene delivery approaches. This novel delivery system has shown promising results in terms of physicochemical properties, stability, cytotoxicity, in vitro cellular uptake, and gene knockout efficiency, together with providing flexibility in sgRNA selection. The optimized final formulations showed an average diameter of 229.1 ± 3.66 nm, a polydispersity index of 0.089 ± 0.013, and a zeta potential value of 25.7 ± 0.87 mV. The encapsulation efficiency of the developed formulations has been revealed as 80.60%. The cellular uptake efficiency was evaluated and measured as 45.6% for the final formulation. Furthermore, the Lipo/Cas9:sgRNA (1.5:1) formulation decreased the relative SRD5α2 mRNA expression by 29.7% compared to the control group. The results of this study reveal that the liposomal formulation based on enzyme immobilization of Cas9 protein using CRISPR technology, an innovative gene-editing tool for SRD5α2 suppression, might be an alternative treatment option for prostate cancer or BPH treatment without current drug side effects.