Systemic delivery of small interfering RNA (siRNA) is limited by its poor stability and limited cell-penetrating properties. To overcome these limitations, we designed an efficient siRNA delivery system using polyethyleneimine-coated virus-like particles derived from adeno-associated virus type 2 (PEI-AAV2-VLPs).
AAV2-VLPs were produced in insect cells by infection with a baculovirus vector containing three AAV2 capsid genes. Using this method, we generated well dispersed AAV2-VLPs with an average diameter of 20 nm, similar to that of the wild-type AAV2 capsid. The nanoparticles were subsequently purified by chromatography and three viral capsid proteins were confirmed by Western blot. The negatively charged AAV2-VLPs were surface-coated with PEI to develop cationic nanoparticles, and the formulation was used for efficient siRNA delivery under optimized transfection conditions.
PEI-AAV2-VLPs were able to condense siRNA and to protect it from degradation by nucleases, as confirmed by gel electrophoresis. siRNA delivery mediated by PEI-AAV2-VLPs resulted in a high transfection rate in MCF-7 breast cancer cells with no significant cytotoxicity. A cell death assay also confirmed the efficacy and functionality of this novel siRNA formulation towards MCF-7 cancer cells, in which more than 60% of cell death was induced within 72 hours of transfection.
The present study explores the potential of virus-like particles as a new approach for gene delivery and confirms its potential for breast cancer therapy.
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