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PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e54460. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0054460. Epub 2013 Jan 30.

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

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Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Akron, Akron, Ohio, USA.


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.

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