Tackling the Limitations of Copolymeric Small Interfering RNA Delivery Agents by a Combined Experimental-Computational Approach
I Tabujew and M Heidari and C Freidel and M Helm and L Tebbe and U Wolfrum and K Nagel-Wolfrum and K Koynov and P Biehl and FH Schacher and R Potestio and K Peneva, BIOMACROMOLECULES, 20, 4389-4406 (2019).
Despite the first successful applications of nonviral delivery vectors for small interfering RNA in the treatment of illnesses, such as the respiratory syncytial virus infection, the preparation of a clinically suitable, safe, and efficient delivery system still remains a challenge. In this study, we tackle the drawbacks of the existing systems by a combined experimental computational in-depth investigation of the influence of the polymer architecture over the binding and transfection efficiency. For that purpose, a library of diblock copolymers with a molar mass of 30 kDa and a narrow dispersity (D < 1.12) was synthesized. We studied in detail the impact of an altered block size and/or composition of cationic diblock copolymers on the viability of each respective structure as a delivery agent for polynucleotides. The experimental investigation was further complemented by a computational study employing molecular simulations as well as an analytical description of systemic properties. This is the first report in which molecular dynamics simulations of RNA/cationic polymer complexes have been performed. Specifically, we developed and employed a coarse-grained model of the system at the molecular level to study the interactions between polymer chains and small interfering RNA. We were further able to confirm a threshold lengthbinchn block/gthnonbinding blocklen ratio, which is required for efficient complexation of siRNA, and it was possible to find a correlation between the length of the cationic block and the size of the resulting polyplex. Hence, the combined insights from the experiments and the theoretical investigation resulted in a wealth of information about the properties of cationic diblock copolymers employed as RNA delivery agents, in particular regarding the molecular and mechanistic details of the interaction between the two components of a polyplex.
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