How To Tune the Gene Delivery and Biocompatibility of Poly(2-(4-aminobutyl)-2-oxazoline) by Self- and Coassembly

Leiske, Meike N.; Sobotta, Fabian; Höppener, Stephanie; Brendel, Johannes C.; Träger, Anja; Schubert, Ulrich S.
Despite their promising potential in gene transfection, the toxicity and limited efficiency of cationic polymers as nonviral vectors are major obstacles for their broader application. The large amount of cationic charges, for example, in poly(ethylene imine) (PEI) is known to be advantageous in terms of their transfection efficiency but goes hand-in-hand with a high toxicity. Consequently, an efficient shielding of the charges is required to minimize toxic effects. In this study, we use a simple mixed-micelle approach to optimize the required charge density for efficient DNA complex formation and to minimize toxicity by using a biocompatible polymer. In detail, we coassembled mixed poly(2-oxazoline) nanostructures (d ≈ 100 nm) consisting of a hydrophobic-cationic block copolymer (P(NonOx52-b-AmOx184)) and a hydrophobic–hydrophilic stealth block copolymer (P(EtOx155-b-NonOx76) in ratios of 0, 20, 40, 60, 80, and 100 wt % P(NonOx52-b-AmOx184). All micelles with cationic polymers exhibited a very good DNA binding efficiency and dissociation ability, while the bio- and hemocompatibility improved with increasing EtOx content. Analytics via confocal laser scanning microscopy and flow cytometry showed an enhanced cellular uptake, transfection ability, and biocompatibility of all prepared micelleplexes compared to AmOx homopolymers. Micelleplexes with 80 or 100 wt % revealed a similar transfection efficiency as PEI, while the cell viability was significantly higher (80 to 90% compared to 60% for PEI).
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748 - 760