Bio-mimetic surface engineering of plasmid-loaded nanoparticles for active intracellular trafficking by actin comet-tail motility
Intracellular transport after endosomal escape presents one of the major barriers for efficient non-viral gene delivery because plasmid DNA and synthetic nanoparticulate carriers suffer from significantly restricted diffusion in the cytoplasm. We postulate that forces generated by actin polymerization, a mechanism used by several bacterial pathogens such as Listeria monocytogenes, can be harnessed to propel nanoparticles within the cytoplasm and thereby overcome diffusional limitations associated with gene transport in the cell cytoplasm. In this work, we synthesized and characterized plasmid DNA-containing nanoparticles modified with ActA protein, the single protein in L. monocytogenes responsible for activating actin polymerization and initiating actin comet-tail propulsion. The motility of the ActA-modified nanoparticles was assessed in Xenopus laevis cytoplasmic extract supplemented with fluorescently labeled actin. Nanoparticle motility was monitored using multi-color, time-lapse fluorescence microscopy for the formation of actin comet tails attached to the fluorescently labeled vehicle. We observed particle motility with velocities ∼0.06 μm/s with anionic-charged plasmid carriers formed from either poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) or 1,2-dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DOPC) liposomes, but interestingly not with cationic particles assembled by encapsulation of plasmid with either polyethylenimine (PEI) or 1,2-dioleoyl-3-trimethylammonium-propane/1,2-dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoethanolamine (DOTAP/DOPE) lipids. Control particles coated with albumin instead of ActA also showed no motility. Taken together, we have demonstrated the feasibility of translating the comet-tail propulsion mechanism to synthetic drug carriers as a potential approach to overcome intracellular transport barriers, and also have identified appropriate gene delivery systems that can be employed for this mechanism.
Journal: Biomaterials - Volume 30, Issue 5, February 2009, Pages 951–958