METHODS: siRNA was conjugated with a thermo-responsive copolymer that was synthesized by copolymerization of N-isopropylacrylamide (NIPAAm) and hydrophilic N,N-dimethylacrylamide (DMAA) to permit thermally controlled interaction between siRNA and an intracellular gene silencing-related protein by utilizing the coil-to-globule phase transition of the copolymer. The composition of the copolymer was fine-tuned to obtain lower critical solution temperature (LCST) around body temperature, and the phase transition behavior was evaluated. The cellular uptake and gene silencing efficiency of the copolymer-siRNA conjugates were then investigated in cultured cells.
RESULTS: The siRNA conjugated with the copolymer with LCST of 38.0°C exhibited ~ 11.5 nm of the hydrodynamic diameter at 37°C and ~ 9.8 nm of the diameter at 41°C, indicating the coil-globule transition above the LCST. In line with this LCST behavior, its cellular uptake and gene silencing efficiency were enhanced when the temperature was increased from 37°C to 41°C.
CONCLUSION: By fine-tuning the LCST behavior of the copolymer that was conjugated with siRNA, siRNA activity could be controlled in a thermo-responsive manner around the body temperature. This technique may offer a promising approach to induce therapeutic effects of siRNA selectively in the target site even in the in vivo conditions.
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