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Sci Rep. 2017 Nov 1;7(1):14844. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-14551-1.

Cationic starch/pDNA nanocomplexes assembly and their nanostructure changes on gene transfection efficiency.

Author information

1
Ministry of Education Engineering Research Center of Starch & Protein Processing, Guangdong Province Key Laboratory for Green Processing of Natural Products and Product Safety, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou, 510640, China.
2
Ministry of Education Engineering Research Center of Starch & Protein Processing, Guangdong Province Key Laboratory for Green Processing of Natural Products and Product Safety, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou, 510640, China. xxlee@scut.edu.cn.
3
Ministry of Education Engineering Research Center of Starch & Protein Processing, Guangdong Province Key Laboratory for Green Processing of Natural Products and Product Safety, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou, 510640, China. hxy198707@126.com.
4
CAS Lamvac Biotech Co., Ltd., No.3, Lanyue Road, Guangzhou Science Park, Guangzhou Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone, Guangzhou, Guangdong, 510663, China. hxy198707@126.com.

Abstract

This study aims at developing biocompatible starch based gene carriers with good gene delivery and transfection efficacy. By controlling the molecular weight and aggregation behavior of spermine modified cationic starch (CS) molecules, nanocomplexes spontaneously formed through electrostatic interaction using CS and plasmid pAcGFP1-C1 (pDNA) displaying different structural changes (particle size, zeta potential, shape, compactness) response to the simulated intracellular pH variation. Results indicated that CS2 with weight average molecular weight (Mw) of 6.337 × 104 g/mol displayed relatively higher transfection efficacy (~30%) in HepG2 cells than others and revealed significantly low cytotoxicity. By simulating the intracellular pH variation, Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS) and Small Angle X-ray Scattering (SAXS) results demonstrated that CS2 could bind to pDNA tightly and form nanocomplexes with smaller and compact internal aggregate structure at acidic conditions, which facilitated the effective pDNA protection under endosome pH change, while larger and loose internal aggregate structure at physiological pH which promoted the disintegration of CS2/pDNA nanocomplexes. Therefore, CS with suitable Mw of around 6.0 × 104 g/mol represents a potential gene carrier for gene delivery. This study also demonstrated that controlling the internal nanostructure change of polymer/gene nanocomplexes could provide guidance in designing effective starch based gene carriers.

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