Liver is a key organ for numerous metabolic pathways and involves many inherited diseases that, although being different in their pathology, are often caused by lack or overproduction of a critical gene product in the diseased cells. In principle, a straightforward method to fix such problem is to introduce into these cells with a gene-coding sequence to provide the missing gene product, or with the nucleic acid sequence to inhibit production of the excessive gene product. Practically, however, success of nucleic acid-based pharmaceutics is dependent on availability of a method capable of delivering nucleic acid sequence in the form of DNA or RNA to liver cells. In this review, we will summarize the progress toward development of physical methods for nucleic acid delivery to liver. Emphasis is placed on the mechanism of action, pros and cons of each method developed so far. We hope the information provided will encourage new endeavor to improve the current methodologies or develop new strategies that will lead to safe and effective delivery of nucleic acids to liver.
Gene delivery; non-viral vectors; physical method; liver; transfection
The notorious biotechnological advance of the last few decades has allowed the development of experimental methods for understanding molecular mechanisms of genes and new therapeutic approaches. Gene therapy is maturing into a viable, practical method with the potential to cure a variety of human illnesses. Some nucleic-acid-based drugs are now available for controlling the progression of genetic diseases by inhibiting gene expression or the activity of their gene products. New therapeutic strategies employ a wide range of molecular tools such as bacterial plasmids containing transgenic inserts, RNA interference and aptamers. A nucleic-acid based constitution confers a lower immunogenic potential and as result of the high stringency selection of large molecular variety, these drugs have high affinity and selectivity for their targets. However, nucleic acids have poor biostability thus requiring chemical modifications and delivery systems to maintain their activity and ease their cellular internalization. This review discusses some of the mechanisms of action and the application of therapies based on nucleic acids such as aptamers and RNA interference as well as platforms for cellular uptake and intracellular delivery of therapeutic oligonucleotides and their trade-offs.
aptamers; RNA interference (RNAi); drug delivery systems; nucleic-acid-based drugs
Nucleic acid amplification is a valuable molecular tool not only in basic research but also in application oriented fields, such as clinical medicine development, infectious diseases diagnosis, gene cloning and industrial quality control. A comperehensive review of the literature on the principles, applications, challenges and prospects of different alternative methods of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was performed. PCR was the first nucleic acid amplification method. With the advancement of research, a no of alternative nucleic acid amplification methods has been developed such as loop mediated isothermal amplification, nucleic acid sequence based amplification, strand displacement amplification, multiple displacement amplification. Most of the alternative methods are isothermal obviating the need for thermal cyclers. Though principles of most of the alternate methods are relatively complex than that of PCR, they offer better applicability and sensitivity in cases where PCR has limitations. Most of the alternate methods still have to prove themselves through extensive validation studies and are not available in commercial form; they pose the potentiality to be used as replacements of PCR. Continuous research is going on in different parts of the world to make these methods viable technically and economically.
Amplification methods; ligase chain reaction; loop mediated isothermal amplification; multiple displacement amplification; nucleic acid sequence based amplification; polymerase chain reaction alternatives
The ability of gene or RNA interference (RNAi) delivery to increase or decrease virtually any protein in a cell opens the path for cures to most diseases that afflict humans. However, their high molecular weight, anionic nature, and instability in the presence of enzymes, pose major obstacles to nucleic acid delivery and frustrates their use as human therapies.
This Account describes current ideas on the mechanisms in non-viral nucleic acid delivery and how lipidic and polymeric carriers overcome some of the critical barriers to delivery. A multitude of polymeric and lipidic vectors have been developed over the last 20 years, only a small fraction of them have progressed into clinical trials. Given that none of these vectors has received FDA approval, indicates that the current vectors do not yet have suitable properties for effective in vivo nucleic acid delivery.
Nucleic acid delivery is a multistep process and inefficiencies at any stage result in a dramatic decrease in gene delivery or gene silencing. Despite this, the majority of studies investigating synthetic vectors focus solely on optimization of endosomal escape. A small number of studies address how to improve uptake via targeted delivery. A smaller fraction examine the intracellular fate of the delivery systems and nucleic acid cargo. The internalization of genes into the cell nucleus remains an inefficient and mysterious process. In the case of DNA delivery, strategies to increase and accelerate the migration of DNA through the cytoplasm and transport it through the nuclear membrane are required.
The barriers to siRNA delivery are fewer: siRNA is more readily released from the carrier, siRNA is more resistant to enzymatic degradation and the target is in the cytoplasm; hence, siRNA delivery systems are becoming a clinical reality. With regard to siRNA therapy, the exact cytoplasmic location of RISC formation and activity is unknown. This makes specific targeting of the RISC for more efficient siRNA delivery difficult. Furthermore, identifying the factors favoring the binding of siRNA to Ago-2 and understanding how the half-life of siRNA and Ago-2/siRNA complex in the cytoplasm can be modulated without interfering with RISC functions that are essential for normal cell activity could increase siRNA delivery efficiency.
In this manuscript we concisely review the current synthetic vectors and for a few of these, propose alternative strategies. We suggest how certain cellular mechanisms might be exploited to improve gene transfection and silencing. Finally, we raise the question if some carriers are delivering the siRNA to cells capable of repackaging the siRNA into exosomes. The exosomes would then transport the siRNA into a subsequent population of cells where the siRNA effect is manifest. This piggy-back mechanism may be responsible for reported deep tissue siRNA effects using certain carriers.
There has been great interest recently in therapeutic use of nucleic acids including genes, ribozymes and antisense oligonucleotides. Despite recent improvements in delivering antisense oligonucleotides to cells in culture, nucleic acid-based therapy is still often limited by the poor penetration of the nucleic acid into the cytoplasm and nucleus of cells. In this report we describe nucleic acid delivery to cells using a series of novel cationic amphiphiles containing cholic acid moieties linked via alkylamino side chains. We term these agents 'molecular umbrellas' since the cationic alkylamino chains provide a 'handle' for binding of nucleic acids, while the cholic acid moieties are likely to interact with the lipid bilayer allowing the highly charged nucleic acid backbone to traverse across the cell membrane. Optimal gene and oligonucleotide delivery to cells was afforded by a derivative (amphiphile 5) containing four cholic acid moieties. With this amphiphile used as a constituent in cationic liposomes, a 4-5 log increase in reporter gene delivery was measured. This amphiphile used alone provided a 250-fold enhancement of oligo-nucleotide association with cells as observed by flow cytometry. A substantial fraction of cells exposed to complexes of amphiphile 5 and fluorescent oligo-nucleotide showed nuclear accumulation of the fluorophore. Enhanced pharmacological effectiveness of antisense oligonucleotides complexed with amphiphile 5 was observed using an antisense splicing correction assay that activates a Luciferase reporter. Intracellular delivery, nuclear localization and pharmacological effectiveness of oligonucleotides using amphiphile 5 were similar to those afforded by commercial cytofectins. However, in contrast to most commercial cytofectins, the umbrella amphiphile showed substantial delivery activity even in the presence of high concentrations of serum.
Peptide nucleic acid (PNA) is known to bind with extraordinarily high affinity and sequence-specificity to complementary nucleic acid sequences and can be used to suppress gene expression. However, effective delivery into cells is a major obstacle to the development of PNA for gene therapy applications. Here, we present a novel method for the in vitro delivery of antigene PNA to cells. By using a nucleocapsid protein derived from Simian virus 40, we have been able to package PNA into pseudovirions, facilitating the delivery of the packaged PNA into cells. We demonstrate that this system can be used effectively to suppress gene expression associated with multidrug resistance in cancer cells, as shown by RT-PCR, flow cytometry, Western blotting, and cell viability under chemotherapy. The combination of PNA with the SV40-based delivery system is a method for suppressing a gene of interest that could be broadly applied to numerous targets.
In this review, we discuss recent advances in nucleic acid-based therapeutic technologies that target hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Because the HCV genome is present exclusively in RNA form during replication, various nucleic acid-based therapeutic approaches targeting the HCV genome, such as ribozymes, aptamers, siRNAs, and antisense oligonucleotides, have been suggested as potential tools against HCV. Nucleic acids are potentially immunogenic and typically require a delivery tool to be utilized as therapeutics. These limitations have hampered the clinical development of nucleic acid-based therapeutics. However, despite these limitations, nucleic acid-based therapeutics has clinical value due to their great specificity, easy and large-scale synthesis with chemical methods, and pharmaceutical flexibility. Moreover, nucleic acid therapeutics are expected to broaden the range of targetable molecules essential for the HCV replication cycle, and therefore they may prove to be more effective than existing therapeutics, such as interferon-α and ribavirin combination therapy. This review focuses on the current status and future prospects of ribozymes, aptamers, siRNAs, and antisense oligonucleotides as therapeutic reagents against HCV.
Hepatitis C virus; Nucleic acid-based therapeutics; Ribozyme; Aptamer; siRNA; Antisense oligonucleotide
The dramatic acceleration in identification of new nucleic-acid-based therapeutic molecules has provided new perspectives in pharmaceutical research. However, their development is limited by their poor cellular uptake and inefficient trafficking. Here we describe a short amphipathic peptide, Pep-3, that combines a tryptophan/phenylalanine domain with a lysine/arginine-rich hydrophilic motif. Pep-3 forms stable nano-size complexes with peptide-nucleic acid analogues and promotes their efficient delivery into a wide variety of cell lines, including primary and suspension lines, without any associated cytotoxicity. We demonstrate that Pep-3-mediated delivery of antisense-cyclin B1-charged-PNA blocks tumour growth in vivo upon intratumoral and intravenous injection. Moreover, we show that PEGylation of Pep-3 significantly improves complex stability in vivo and consequently the efficiency of antisense cyclin B1 administered intravenously. Given the biological characteristics of these vectors, we believe that peptide-based delivery technologies hold a true promise for therapeutic applications of DNA mimics.
Importance of the field
Gene therapy has the potential to treat a wide variety of diseases including genetic diseases and cancer.
Areas covered in this review
This review introduces biomaterials used for gene delivery and then focuses on the use of electrostatic surface modifications to improve gene delivery materials. These modifications have been used to stabilize therapeutics in vivo, add cell-specific targeting ligands, and promote controlled release. Coatings of nanoparticles and microparticles as well as non-particulate surface coatings are covered in this review. Electrostatic principles are crucial for the development of multilayer delivery structures fabricated by the layer-by-layer method.
What the reader will gain
The reader will gain knowledge about the composition of biomaterials used for surface modifications and how these coatings and multilayers can be utilized to improve spatial control and efficiency of delivery. Examples are shown for the delivery of nucleic acids, including DNA and siRNA, to in vitro and in vivo systems.
Take home message
The versatile and powerful approach of electrostatic coatings and multilayers will lead to the development of enhanced gene therapies.
gene delivery; coating; electrostatic; multilayer; surface; nanoparticle; targeting; polymer; biomaterials
Materials that provide spatial and temporal control over the delivery of DNA and other nucleic acid-based agents from surfaces play important roles in the development of localized gene-based therapies. This review focuses on a relatively new approach to the immobilization and release of DNA from surfaces: methods based on the layer-by-layer assembly of thin multilayered films (or polyelectrolyte multilayers, PEMs). Layer-by-layer methods provide convenient, nanometer-scale control over the incorporation of DNA, RNA, and oligonucleotide constructs into thin polyelectrolyte films. Provided that these assemblies can be designed in ways that permit controlled film disassembly under physiological conditions, this approach can contribute new methods for spatial and/or temporal control over the delivery of nucleic acid-based therapeutics in vitro and in vivo. We describe applications of layer-by-layer assembly to the fabrication of DNA-containing films that can be used to provide control over the release of plasmid DNA from the surfaces of macroscopic objects and promote surface-mediated cell transfection. We also highlight the application of these methods to the coating of colloidal substrates and the fabrication of hollow micrometer-scale capsules that can be used to encapsulate and control the release or delivery of DNA and oligonucleotides. Current challenges, gaps in knowledge, and new opportunities for the development of these methods in the general area of gene delivery are discussed.
Gene delivery; Polyelectrolyte; Multilayered Films; Layer-by-layer; DNA; Transfection; Capsules
Targeted delivery of functional nucleic acids (genes and oligonucleotides) to pulmonary endothelium may become a novel therapy for the treatment of various types of lung diseases. It may also provide a new research tool to study the functions and regulation of novel genes in pulmonary endothelium. Its success is largely dependent on the development of a vehicle that is capable of efficient pulmonary delivery with minimal toxicity. This review summarizes the recent progress that has been made in our laboratory along these research directions. Factors that affect pulmonary nucleic acids delivery are also discussed.
delivery; endothelial cells; genes; lung; oligonucleotides; pulmonary circulation; siRNA; targeting
A simple method for the detection of sequence- and structural-selective ligand binding to nucleic acids is described. The method is based on the commonly used thermal denaturation method in which ligand binding is registered as an elevation in the nucleic acid melting temperature (Tm). The method can be extended to yield a new, higher -throughput, assay by the simple expediency of melting designed mixtures of polynucleotides (or oligonucleotides) with different sequences or structures of interest. Upon addition of ligand to such mixtures at low molar ratios, the Tm is shifted only for the nucleic acid containing the preferred sequence or structure. Proof of principle of the assay is provided using first a mixture of polynucleotides with different sequences and, second, with a mixture containing DNA, RNA and two types of DNA:RNA hybrid structures. Netropsin, ethidium, daunorubicin and actinomycin, ligands with known sequence preferences, were used to illustrate the method. The applicability of the approach to oligonucleotide systems is illustrated by the use of simple ternary and binary mixtures of defined sequence deoxyoligonucleotides challenged by the bisanthracycline WP631. The simple mixtures described here provide proof of principle of the assay and pave the way for the development of more sophisticated mixtures for rapidly screening the selectivity of new nucleic acid binding compounds.
Nucleic acids ligation is a vital process in the repair, replication and recombination of nucleic acids. Traditionally, it is assayed by denatured gel electrophoresis and autoradiography, which are not sensitive, and are complex and discontinuous. Here we report a new approach for ligation monitoring using molecular beacon DNA probes. The molecular beacon, designed in such a way that its sequence is complementary with the product of the ligation process, is used to monitor the nucleic acid ligation in a homogeneous solution and in real-time. Our method is fast and simple. We are able to study nucleic acids ligation kinetics conveniently and to determine the activity of DNA ligase accurately. We have studied different factors that influence DNA ligation catalyzed by T4 DNA ligase. The major advantages of our method are its ultrasensitivity, excellent specificity, convenience and real-time monitoring in homogeneous solution. This method will be widely useful for studying nucleic acids ligation process and other nucleic acid interactions.
Development of a practical gene point-of-care testing device (g-POCT device) requires innovative detection methods for demonstrating the results of the gene amplification reaction without the use of expensive equipment. We have studied a new method for the sequence-specific visual detection of minute amounts of nucleic acids using precipitation reaction by addition of cationic polymers to amplicons of Loop mediated isothermal Amplification (LAMP).
Oligo DNA probes labeled with different fluorescent dyes were prepared for multiple nucleic acid templates, and the templates were amplified by the LAMP reactions under the existence of the probes. At completion of the LAMP reaction, an optimal amount of low molecular weight polyethylenimine (PEI) was added, resulting in the precipitation of the insoluble LAMP amplicon-PEI complex. The fluorescently labeled Oligo DNA probes hybridized to the LAMP product were incorporated into the precipitation, and the precipitate emitted fluorescence corresponding to the amplified nucleic acid templates. The color of emitted fluorescence can be detected easily by naked eye on a conventional UV illuminator.
The presence or absence of minute amount of nucleic acid templates could be detected in a simple manner through visual assessment for the color of the LAMP amplicon-PEI complex precipitate. We conclude that this detection method may facilitate development of small and simple g-POCT device.
Patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) have high cardiovascular mortality and morbidity and a high risk for developing malignancy. Excessive oxidative stress is thought to play a major role in elevating these risks by increasing oxidative nucleic acid damage. Oxidative stress results from an imbalance between reactive oxygen/nitrogen species (RONS) production and antioxidant defense mechanisms and can cause vascular and tissue injuries as well as nucleic acid damage in CKD patients. The increased production of RONS, impaired nonenzymatic or enzymatic antioxidant defense mechanisms, and other risk factors including gene polymorphisms, uremic toxins (indoxyl sulfate), deficiency of arylesterase/paraoxonase, hyperhomocysteinemia, dialysis-associated membrane bioincompatibility, and endotoxin in patients with CKD can inhibit normal cell function by damaging cell lipids, arachidonic acid derivatives, carbohydrates, proteins, amino acids, and nucleic acids. Several clinical biomarkers and techniques have been used to detect the antioxidant status and oxidative stress/oxidative nucleic acid damage associated with long-term complications such as inflammation, atherosclerosis, amyloidosis, and malignancy in CKD patients. Antioxidant therapies have been studied to reduce the oxidative stress and nucleic acid oxidation in patients with CKD, including alpha-tocopherol, N-acetylcysteine, ascorbic acid, glutathione, folic acid, bardoxolone methyl, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor, and providing better dialysis strategies. This paper provides an overview of radical production, antioxidant defence, pathogenesis and biomarkers of oxidative stress in patients with CKD, and possible antioxidant therapies.
A new method using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization
(MALDI) mass spectrometry for the direct analysis of the mass-silent
post-transcriptionally modified nucleoside pseudouridine in nucleic acids
has been developed. This method utilizes 1-cyclohexyl-3-(2-morpholinoethyl)carbodiimide to derivatize
pseudouridine residues. After chemical derivatization all pseudouridine
residues will contain a 252 Da ‘mass tag’ that
allows the presence of pseudouridine to be identified using mass
spectrometry. Pseudouridine residues can be identified in intact nucleic
acids by obtaining a mass spectrum of the nucleic acid before and
after derivatization. The mass difference (in units of 252 Da) will
denote the number of pseudouridine residues present. To determine
the sequence location of pseudouridine, a combination of enzymatic
hydrolysis and mass spectrometric steps are used. Here, MALDI analysis
of RNase T1 digestion products before and after modification are used
to narrow the sequence location of pseudouridine to specific T1
fragments in the gene sequence. Further mass spectrometric monitoring
of exonuclease digestion products from isolated T1 fragments is
then used for exact sequence placement. This approach to pseudouridine
identification is demonstrated using Escherichia coli tRNAs.
This new method allows for the direct determination of pseudouridine
in nucleic acids, can be used to identify modified pseudouridine
residues and can be used with general modification mapping approaches
to completely characterize the post-transcriptional modifications present
We have shown previously that a peptide, MPG, derived from the hydrophobic fusion peptide of HIV-1 gp41 and the hydrophilic nuclear localisation sequence of SV40 large T antigen, can be used as a powerful tool for the delivery of oligonucleotides into cultured cells. Now we extend the potential of MPG to the delivery of nucleic acids into cultured cells. In vitro, MPG interacts strongly with nucleic acids, most likely forming a peptide cage around them, which stabilises and protects them from degradation in cell culture media. MPG is non-cytotoxic, insensitive to serum and efficiently delivers plasmids into several different cell lines in only 1 h. Moreover, MPG enables complete expression of the gene products encoded by the plasmids it delivers into cultured cells. Finally, we have investigated the potential of MPG as an efficient delivery agent for gene therapy, by attempting to deliver antisense nucleic acids targeting an essential cell cycle gene. MPG efficiently delivered a plasmid expressing the full-length antisense cDNA of human cdc25C, which consequently successfully reduced cdc25C expression levels and promoted a block to cell cycle progression. Based on our results, we conclude that MPG is a potent delivery agent for the generalised delivery of nucleic acids as well as of oligonucleotides into cultured cells and believe that its contribution to the development of new gene therapy strategies could be of prime interest.
A novel approach was developed to efficiently package and deliver nucleic acids with low generation polypropylenimine (PPI) dendrimers by using Au nanoparticles as a “labile catalytic” packaging agent. The Au nanoparticles (Au NPs) helped low generation dendrimers to package nucleic acids into discrete nanoparticles but are not included in the final DNA/siRNA complexes. Therefore it becomes possible to eliminate the potential toxic problems associated with Au NPs by selectively removing the Au NPs from the resulting nucleic acid complexes before their delivery to targeted cells. This is a new concept in using inorganic engineered nanoparticles in nucleic acid packaging and delivery applications. Furthermore, compared to the siRNA nanostructures (mainly randomly aggregated nanofibers) fabricated by low generation dendrimer alone (Generation 3), the siRNA nanoparticles packaged using this novel approach (by Au NPs modified with G3 PPI) can be internalized by cancer cells and the delivered siRNAs can efficiently silence their target mRNA. The efficiency of mRNA silencing by this novel approach is even superior to higher generation dendrimers (Generation 5).
Gene therapy; siRNA; plasmid DNA; non-viral gene delivery; Au nanoparticles; polypropylenimine (PPI) dendrimers
Nucleic acid amplification techniques are commonly used currently to diagnose viral diseases and manage patients with this kind of illnesses. These techniques have had a rapid but unconventional route of development during the last 30 years, with the discovery and introduction of several assays in clinical diagnosis. The increase in the number of commercially available methods has facilitated the use of this technology in the majority of laboratories worldwide. This technology has reduced the use of some other techniques such as viral culture based methods and serological assays in the clinical virology laboratory. Moreover, nucleic acid amplification techniques are now the methods of reference and also the most useful assays for the diagnosis in several diseases. The introduction of these techniques and their automation provides new opportunities for the clinical laboratory to affect patient care. The main objectives in performing nucleic acid tests in this field are to provide timely results useful for high-quality patient care at a reasonable cost, because rapid results are associated with improvements in patients care. The use of amplification techniques such as polymerase chain reaction, real-time polymerase chain reaction or nucleic acid sequence-based amplification for virus detection, genotyping and quantification have some advantages like high sensitivity and reproducibility, as well as a broad dynamic range. This review is an up-to-date of the main nucleic acid techniques and their clinical applications, and special challenges and opportunities that these techniques currently provide for the clinical virology laboratory.
Automation methods; molecular diagnosis; molecular microbiology; nucleic acid techniques; PCR techniques; viral laboratory diagnosis.
Importance of the field
Nucleic acids such as plasmid DNA, antisense oligonucleotide, and RNA interference (RNAi) molecules, have a great potential to be used as therapeutics for the treatment of various genetic and acquired diseases. To design a successful nucleic acid delivery system, the pharmacological effect of nucleic acids, the physiological condition of the subjects or sites, and the physicochemical properties of nucleic acid and carriers have to be thoroughly examined.
Areas covered in this review
The commonly used lipids, polymers and corresponding delivery systems are reviewed in terms of their characteristics, applications, advantages and limitations.
What the reader will gain
This article aims to provide an overview of biological barriers and strategies to overcome these barriers by properly designing effective synthetic carriers for nucleic acid delivery.
Take home message
A thorough understanding of biological barriers and the structure–activity relationship of lipid and polymeric carriers is the key for effective nucleic acid therapy.
lipid; liposomes; non-viral gene delivery; nucleic acid; oligonucleotides; polymer; siRNA
The nucleic acid exchange reaction is a common feature for genetic recombination, DNA replication and transcription. Due to the fact that in the strand-exchange reactions the reactant and product molecules have similar or identical nucleotide sequences, the reaction is undetectable. As a rule, the nucleic acids with radioactive or fluorescence labels are used in such studies. Besides the fact that the labels can perturb the reaction and pose a health risk to the investigators, the assays usually involve extra experimental steps: quenching the reaction, separation, visualization and quantification of the products. Here, we describe a straightforward, direct and precise method to study strand-exchange reaction of unlabeled nucleic acids by real-time measurements of optical absorption. The method takes advantage of the property of some guanine-rich oligonucleotides to adopt monomolecular quadruplex conformation in the presence of certain cations. The conformation is characterized by significant absorption in long-wavelength range of the ultraviolet region where usually other secondary structures are transparent. The ‘signal’ oligonucleotide is incorporated into reactant duplex by annealing with target sequence. Adding the replacement sequence initiates the release of the ‘signal’ oligonucleotide into solution, which is accompanied by ultraviolet absorption in long-wavelength range.
The accessibility of skin makes it an ideal target organ for nucleic acid-based therapeutics; however, effective patient-friendly delivery remains a major obstacle to clinical utility. A variety of limited and inefficient methods of delivering nucleic acids to keratinocytes have been demonstrated; further advances will require well-characterized reagents, rapid noninvasive assays of delivery, and well-developed skin model systems. Using intravital fluorescence and bioluminescence imaging and a standard set of reporter plasmids we demonstrate transfection of cells in mouse and human xenograft skin using intradermal injection and two microneedle array delivery systems. Reporter gene expression could be detected in individual keratinocytes, in real-time, in both mouse skin as well as human skin xenografts. These studies revealed that non-invasive intravital imaging can be used as a guide for developing gene delivery tools, establishing a benchmark for comparative testing of nucleic acid skin delivery technologies.
It is informative to detect highly conserved positions in proteins and nucleic acid sequence/structure since they are often indicative of structural and/or functional importance. ConSurf (http://consurf.tau.ac.il) and ConSeq (http://conseq.tau.ac.il) are two well-established web servers for calculating the evolutionary conservation of amino acid positions in proteins using an empirical Bayesian inference, starting from protein structure and sequence, respectively. Here, we present the new version of the ConSurf web server that combines the two independent servers, providing an easier and more intuitive step-by-step interface, while offering the user more flexibility during the process. In addition, the new version of ConSurf calculates the evolutionary rates for nucleic acid sequences. The new version is freely available at: http://consurf.tau.ac.il/.
RNA engineering for nanotechnology and medical applications is an exciting emerging research field. RNA has intrinsically defined features on the nanometer scale and is a particularly interesting candidate for such applications due to its amazing diversity, flexibility and versatility in structure and function. Specifically, the current use of siRNA to silence target genes involved in disease has generated much excitement in the scientific community. The intrinsic ability to sequence-specifically down-regulate gene expression in a temporally- and spatially-controlled fashion has led to heightened interest and rapid development of siRNA-based therapeutics. Though methods for gene silencing with high efficacy and specificity have been achieved in vitro, the effective delivery of nucleic acids to specific cells in vivo has been a hurdle for RNA therapeutics. This review covers different RNA-based approaches for diagnosis, prevention and treatment of human disease, with a focus on the latest developments of nonviral carriers of siRNA for delivery in vivo. The applications and challenges of siRNA therapy, as well as potential solutions to these problems, the approaches for using phi29 pRNA-based vectors as polyvalent vehicles for specific delivery of siRNA, ribozymes, drugs or other therapeutic agents to specific cells for therapy will also be addressed.
Viral DNA packaging motor; RNA dimer; trimer; hexameric ring; DNA translocation; bacteriophage phi29; pRNA; procapsid; viral assembly; siRNA; targeted delivery; gene therapy; RNA nanotechnology; nanobiotechnology; nanomedicine
Hybridization of nucleic acids on solid surfaces is a key process involved in high-throughput technologies such as microarrays and, in some cases, next-generation sequencing (NGS). A physical understanding of the hybridization process helps to determine the accuracy of these technologies. The goal of a widespread research program is to develop reliable transformations between the raw signals reported by the technologies and individual molecular concentrations from an ensemble of nucleic acids. This research has inputs from many areas, from bioinformatics and biostatistics, to theoretical and experimental biochemistry and biophysics, to computer simulations. A group of leading researchers met in Ploen Germany in 2011 to discuss present knowledge and limitations of our physico-chemical understanding of high-throughput nucleic acid technologies. This meeting inspired us to write this summary, which provides an overview of the state-of-the-art approaches based on physico-chemical foundation to modeling of the nucleic acids hybridization process on solid surfaces. In addition, practical application of current knowledge is emphasized.