Cholesterol-peptide hybrids to form liposome-like vesicles for gene delivery

Authors: Tang, Qiong; Cao, Bin; Wu, Haiyan; Cheng, Gang; PLoS One; (2013); 10.1371/journal.pone.0054460

In this paper, four amphiphilic cholesterol-peptide conjugates (Ch-R5H5, Ch-R3H3, Ch-R5 and Ch-R5) were designed and synthesized, and their properties in gene delivery were evaluated in vitro with an aim of developing more efficient gene delivery carriers. These amphiphilic cholesterol-peptide conjugates are composed of hydrophobic cholesterol and positively charged peptides. They were able to self-assemble into micelles at low concentrations and their critical micelle concentrations in phosphate buffered saline (pH 7.4) are ?85 µg/mL. Amphiphilic cholesterol-peptide conjugates condensed DNA more efficiently than a hydrophilic cationic oligoarginine (R10) peptide with no hydrophobic segment. Their transfection efficiencies were at least two orders of magnitude greater than that of R10 peptide in HEK-293 cells. Moreover, the introduction of histidine residues in cholesterol-peptide conjugates led to higher gene expression efficiency compared with cholesterol-peptides without histidine (Ch-R5 and Ch-R3), and the luciferase expression level was comparable or even higher than that induced by PEI at its optimal N/P ratio. In particular, Ch-R5H5 condensed DNA into smaller nanoparticles than Ch-R3H3 at higher N/P ratios, and the minimum size of Ch-R5H5/DNA complexes was 180 nm with zeta potential of 23 mV, achieved at the N/P ratio of 30. This liposome-like vesicle may be a promising gene delivery carrier for intravenous therapy.