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    Despite the use of small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) as therapeutic agents through the knockdown expression of pathogenic proteins, transportation and delivery of such siRNAs into cells continue to be under investigation. Within nonviral vectors, cationic lipids that include amino acid residues in their structures, and that have already demonstrated their suitability as plasmid DNA nanocarriers, may be also considered as potential siRNA vehicles. A double-chain cationic lipid based on the amino acid arginine mixed with a helper lipid has been the object of this biophysical study. First, ζ-potential measurements and agarose gel electrophoresis experiments confirmed the siRNA compaction, while small-angle X-ray scattering analysis (SAXS) revealed the structural pattern of the lipoplexes. Two bicontinuous cubic phases were found to coexist: the double-gyroid phase (QIIG) and the double-diamond phase (QIID), with Pn3m and Ia3d as crystallographic space groups, respectively; the siRNA is known to be located inside their bicontinuous aqueous channels. Second, in vitro studies in HeLa-green fluorescent protein (GFP) and T731-GFP cell lines (modified for GFP overexpression) showed moderate to high gene knockdown levels (determined by flow cytometry and epifluorescence microscopy) with remarkable cell viabilities (CCK-8 assay). Finally, nano-liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (nanoLC-MS/MS) was used to identify the nature of the proteins adhered to the surface of the lipoplexes after incubation with human serum, simulating their behavior in biological fluids. The abundant presence of lipoproteins and serum albumin in such protein corona, together with the coexistence of the bicontinuous cubic phases, may be behind the remarkable silencing activity of these lipoplexes. The results reported herein show that the use of amino-acid-based cationic lipids mixed with a suitable helper lipid, which have already provided good results as DNA plasmid nanocarriers in cellular transfection processes, may also be a biocompatible option, and so far little investigated, in gene silencing in vitro strategies.


    Natalia Sánchez-Arribas, María Martínez-Negro, Eva M Villar, Lourdes Pérez, Emilio Aicart, Pablo Taboada, Andrés Guerrero-Martínez, Elena Junquera. Biocompatible Nanovector of siRNA Consisting of Arginine-Based Cationic Lipid for Gene Knockdown in Cancer Cells. ACS applied materials & interfaces. 2020 Aug 05;12(31):34536-34547

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    PMID: 32657573

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