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Aug 2013 Molecular pharmaceutics

Impact of siRNA overhangs for dendrimer-mediated siRNA delivery and gene silencing.


Posocco P, Liu X, Laurini E, Marson D, Chen C, Fermeglia M, Rocchi P, Pricl S, Peng L


Small interfering RNA (siRNA) have attracted considerable attention, as compelling therapeutics providing safe and competent delivery systems are available. Dendrimers are emerging as appealing siRNA delivery vectors thanks to their unique, well-defined architecture and the resulting cooperativity and multivalency confined within a nanostructure. We have recently disclosed the structurally flexible fifth-generation TEA-core PAMAM dendrimer (G5) as an effective nanocarrier for delivery of sticky siRNA bearing long complementary sequence overhangs (dA)n/(dT)n (n = 5 or 7). Here, using combined experimental/computational approaches, we successfully clarified (i) the underlying mechanisms of interaction between the dendrimer nanovector G5 and siRNA molecules bearing either complementary or noncomplementary sequence overhangs of different length and chemistry and (ii) the impact of siRNA overhangs contributing toward the improved delivery potency. Using siRNA with complementary overhangs offer the best action in term of gene silencing through the formation of concatemers, that is, supramolecular structures resulting from synergistic and cooperative binding via (dA)n/(dT)n bridges (n = 5 or 7). On the other hand, although siRNA bearing long, noncomplementary overhangs (dA)n/(dA)n or (dT)n/(dT)n (n = 5 or 7) are endowed with considerably higher gene silencing potency than normal siRNA with (dT)2/(dT)2, they remain less effective than their sticky siRNA counterparts. The observed gene silencing potency depends on length, nature, and flexibility of the overhangs, which behave as a sort of clamps that hold and interact with the dendrimer nanovectors, thus impacting siRNA delivery performance and, ultimately, gene silencing. Our findings can be instrumental in designing siRNA entities with enhanced capability to achieve effective RNA interference for therapeutic applications.

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