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Title: Quinine copolymer reporters promote efficient intracellular DNA delivery and illuminate a protein-induced unpackaging mechanism
Polymeric vehicles that efficiently package and controllably release nucleic acids enable the development of safer and more efficacious strategies in genetic and polynucleotide therapies. Developing delivery platforms that endogenously monitor the molecular interactions, which facilitate binding and release of nucleic acids in cells, would aid in the rational design of more effective vectors for clinical applications. Here, we report the facile synthesis of a copolymer containing quinine and 2-hydroxyethyl acrylate that effectively compacts plasmid DNA (pDNA) through electrostatic binding and intercalation. This polymer system poly(quinine- co -HEA) packages pDNA and shows exceptional cellular internalization, transgene expression, and low cytotoxicity compared to commercial controls for several human cell lines, including HeLa, HEK 293T, K562, and keratinocytes (N/TERTs). Using quinine as an endogenous reporter for pDNA intercalation, Raman imaging revealed that proteins inside cells facilitate the unpackaging of polymer–DNA complexes (polyplexes) and the release of their cargo. Our work showcases the ability of this quinine copolymer reporter to not only facilitate effective gene delivery but also enable diagnostic monitoring of polymer–pDNA binding interactions on the molecular scale via Raman imaging. The use of Raman chemical imaging in the field of gene delivery yields unprecedented insight into the unpackaging behavior of polyplexes in more » cells and provides a methodology to assess and design more efficient delivery vehicles for gene-based therapies. « less
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Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
32919 to 32928
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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