Non-viral siRNA vectors prepared by the direct mixing of siRNA and mixtures of an asymmetric N4,N9-diacyl spermine conjugate, N4-linoleoyl-N9-oleoyl-1,12-diamino-4,9-diazadodecane (LinOS) with either cholesterol or DOPE, at various molar ratios of the neutral lipids, are reported. The effects of varying the lipid formulation and changing the N/P charge ratio on the intracellular delivery of siRNA to HeLa cells and on the siRNA-mediated gene silencing of a stably expressed reporter gene (EGFP) were evaluated. The presence of either cholesterol or DOPE in the mixture resulted in a marked increase in the delivery of the siRNA as well as enhanced EGFP silencing as evaluated by FACS. LinOS/Chol 1:2 mixture resulted in the highest siRNA delivery and the most efficient EGFP silencing (reduced to 20%) at N/P = 3.0. Lowering the amount of siRNA from 15 pmol to 3.75 pmol, thus increasing the N/P charge ratio to 11.9, resulted in decreasing the amount of delivered siRNA, while the efficiency of gene silencing was comparable to that obtained with 15 pmol (N/P = 3.0) of siRNA. Mixtures of symmetrical N4,N9-dioleoyl spermine (DOS) with cholesterol at 1:2 molar ratio showed less siRNA delivery than with LinOS/Chol at N/P = 3.0 (15 pmol siRNA), and comparable delivery at N/P = 11.9 (3.75 pmol siRNA). The EGFP silencing was comparable with LinOS and with DOS when mixed with cholesterol 1:2 (lipoplexes prepared with 15 pmol siRNA), but LinOS mixtures showed better EGFP silencing when the siRNA was reduced to 3.75 pmol. Lipoplex particle size determination by DLS of cholesterol mixtures was 106-118 nm, compared to 194-356 nm for lipoplexes prepared with the spermine conjugates only, and to 685 nm for the LinOS/DOPE 1:1 mixture. Confocal microscopy showed successful siRNA delivery of red tagged siRNA and quantitative EGFP knock-down in HeLa EGFP cells; Z-stack photomicrographs showed that the delivered siRNA is distributed intracellularly. CryoTEM of siRNA LinOS/Chol 1:2 lipoplexes show the formation of multilamellar spheres with a size of ~100 nm, in good agreement with the particle size measured by DLS. The constant distance between lamellar repeats is ~6 nm, with the electron-dense layers fitting a monolayer of siRNA. AlamarBlue® cell viability assay showed that the lipoplexes resulted in cell viability ≥ 81%, with LinOS/Chol 1:2 mixtures resulting in cell viabilities of 89% and 94% at siRNA 15 nM and 3.75 nM respectively. These results show that lipoplexes of siRNA and LinOS/Chol mixtures prepared by the direct mixing of the lipid mixture and siRNA, without any preceding pre-formulation steps, result in enhanced siRNA delivery and EGFP knock-down, with excellent cell viability. Thus, LinOS/Chol 1:2 mixture is a very promising candidate as a non-toxic siRNA non-viral vector.
Metwally, A. A., Blagbrough, I. S., & Mantell, J. M. (2012). Quantitative silencing of EGFP reporter gene by self-assembled siRNA lipoplexes of LinOS and cholesterol. Molecular Pharmaceutics, 9(11), 3384-3395. https://doi.org/10.1021/mp300435x