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Bioconjug Chem. 2013 Nov 20;24(11):1850-60. doi: 10.1021/bc400226b. Epub 2013 Oct 25.

Tumor-targeting transferrin nanoparticles for systemic polymerized siRNA delivery in tumor-bearing mice.

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Center for Theragnosis, Korea Institute of Science and Technology , 39-1 Hawolgok-dong, Sungbuk-gu, Seoul 136-791, South Korea.


Transferrin (TF) is widely used as a tumor-targeting ligand for the delivery of anticancer drugs because the TF receptor is overexpressed on the surface of various fast-growing cancer cells. In this article, we report on TF nanoparticles as an siRNA delivery carrier for in vivo tumor-specific gene silencing. To produce siRNA carrying TF nanoparticles (NPs), both TF and siRNA were chemically modified with sulfhydryl groups that can build up self-cross-linked siRNA-TF NPs. Self-polymerized 5'-end thiol-modified siRNA (poly siRNA, psi) and thiolated transferrin (tTF) were spontaneously cross-linked to form stable NPs (psi-tTF NPs) under optimized conditions, and they could be reversibly degraded to release functional monomeric siRNA molecules under reductive conditions. Receptor-mediated endocytosis of TF induced rapid tumor-cell-specific uptake of the psi-tTF NPs, and the internalized NPs resulted in a downregulation of the target protein in red-fluorescent-protein-expressing melanoma cancer cells (RFP/B16F10) with negligible cytotoxicity. After systemic administration, the psi-tTF NPs showed marked accumulation at the tumor, leading to successful target-gene silencing in vivo. This psi-tTF NP system provided a safe and effective strategy for in vivo systemic siRNA delivery for cancer therapy.

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