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1.  Molecularly Self-Assembled Nucleic Acid Nanoparticles for Targeted In Vivo siRNA Delivery 
Nature nanotechnology  2012;7(6):389-393.
Nanoparticles are employed for delivering therapeutics into cells1,2. However, size, shape, surface chemistry and the presentation of targeting ligands on the surface of nanoparticles can affect circulation half-life and biodistribution, cell specific internalization, excretion, toxicity, and efficacy3-7. A variety of materials have been explored for delivering small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) - a therapeutic agent that suppresses the expression of targeted genes8,9. However, conventional delivery nanoparticles such as liposomes and polymeric systems are heterogeneous in size, composition and surface chemistry, and this can lead to suboptimal performance, lack of tissue specificity and potential toxicity10-12. Here, we show that self-assembled DNA tetrahedral nanoparticles with a well-defined size can deliver siRNAs into cells and silence target genes in tumours. Monodisperse nanoparticles are prepared through the self-assembly of complementary DNA strands. Because the DNA strands are easily programmable, the size of the nanoparticles and the spatial orientation and density of cancer targeting ligands (such as peptides and folate) on the nanoparticle surface can be precisely controlled. We show that at least three folate molecules per nanoparticle is required for optimal delivery of the siRNAs into cells and, gene silencing occurs only when the ligands are in the appropriate spatial orientation. In vivo, these nanoparticles showed a longer blood circulation time (t1/2 ∼ 24.2 min) than the parent siRNA (t1/2 ∼ 6 min).
PMCID: PMC3898745  PMID: 22659608
2.  Monocyte-directed RNAi targeting CCR2 improves infarct healing in atherosclerosis-prone mice 
Circulation  2013;127(20):2038-2046.
Exaggerated and prolonged inflammation after myocardial infarction (MI) accelerates left ventricular remodeling. Inflammatory pathways may present a therapeutic target to prevent post-MI heart failure. However, the appropriate magnitude and timing of interventions are largely unknown, in part because noninvasive monitoring tools are lacking. We here employed nanoparticle-facilitated silencing of CCR2, the chemokine receptor that governs inflammatory Ly-6Chigh monocyte subset traffic, to reduce infarct inflammation in apoE−/− mice after MI. We used dual target PET/MRI of transglutaminase factor XIII (FXIII) and myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity to monitor how monocyte subset-targeted RNAi altered infarct inflammation and healing.
Methods and Results
Flow cytometry, gene expression analysis and histology revealed reduced monocyte numbers and enhanced resolution of inflammation in infarcted hearts of apoE−/− mice that were treated with nanoparticle-encapsulated siRNA. To follow extracellular matrix crosslinking non-invasively, we developed a fluorine-18 labeled PET agent (18F-FXIII). Recruitment of MPO-rich inflammatory leukocytes was imaged using a molecular MRI sensor of MPO activity (MPO-Gd). PET/MRI detected anti-inflammatory effects of intravenous nanoparticle-facilitated siRNA therapy (75% decrease of MPO-Gd signal, p<0.05) while 18F-FXIII PET reflected unimpeded matrix crosslinking in the infarct. Silencing of CCR2 during the first week after MI improved ejection fraction on day 21 after MI from 29 to 35% (p<0.05).
CCR2 targeted RNAi reduced recruitment of Ly-6Chigh monocytes, attenuated infarct inflammation and curbed post-MI left ventricular remodeling.
PMCID: PMC3661714  PMID: 23616627
myocardial infarction; remodeling; monocytes; RNAi; PET/MRI
3.  Polymeric nanoparticle PET/MR imaging allows macrophage detection in atherosclerotic plaques 
Circulation research  2013;112(5):755-761.
Myeloid cell content in atherosclerotic plaques associates with rupture and thrombosis. Thus, imaging of lesional monocyte and macrophages (Mo/Mϕ) could serve as a biomarker of disease progression and therapeutic intervention.
To noninvasively assess plaque inflammation with dextran nanoparticle-facilitated hybrid PET/MR imaging.
Methods and Results
Using clinically approved building blocks, we systematically developed 13nm polymeric nanoparticles consisting of crosslinked short chain dextrans which were modified with desferoxamine for zirconium-89 radiolabeling (89Zr-DNP) and a near infrared fluorochrome (VT680) for microscopic and cellular validation. Flow cytometry of cells isolated from excised aortas showed DNP uptake predominantly in Mo/Mϕ (76.7%) and lower signal originating from other leukocytes such as neutrophils and lymphocytes (11.8% and 0.7%, p<0.05 versus Mo/Mϕ). DNP colocalized with the myeloid cell marker CD11b on immunohistochemistry. PET/MRI revealed high uptake of 89Zr-DNP in the aortic root of ApoE−/− mice (standard uptake value, ApoE−/− mice versus wild type controls, 1.9±0.28 versus 1.3±0.03, p<0.05), corroborated by ex vivo scintillation counting and autoradiography. Therapeutic silencing of the monocyte-recruiting receptor CCR2 with siRNA decreased 89Zr-DNP plaque signal (p<0.05) and inflammatory gene expression (p<0.05).
Hybrid PET/MR imaging with a 13nm DNP enables noninvasive assessment of inflammation in experimental atherosclerotic plaques and reports on therapeutic efficacy of anti-inflammatory therapy.
PMCID: PMC3586287  PMID: 23300273
PET/MRI; inflammation; atherosclerosis; molecular imaging; nanoparticles
4.  Systemic RNAi-mediated Gene Silencing in Nonhuman Primate and Rodent Myeloid Cells 
Leukocytes are central regulators of inflammation and the target cells of therapies for key diseases, including autoimmune, cardiovascular, and malignant disorders. Efficient in vivo delivery of small interfering RNA (siRNA) to immune cells could thus enable novel treatment strategies with broad applicability. In this report, we develop systemic delivery methods of siRNA encapsulated in lipid nanoparticles (LNP) for durable and potent in vivo RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated silencing in myeloid cells. This work provides the first demonstration of siRNA-mediated silencing in myeloid cell types of nonhuman primates (NHPs) and establishes the feasibility of targeting multiple gene targets in rodent myeloid cells. The therapeutic potential of these formulations was demonstrated using siRNA targeting tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα) which induced substantial attenuation of disease progression comparable to a potent antibody treatment in a mouse model of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In summary, we demonstrate a broadly applicable and therapeutically relevant platform for silencing disease genes in immune cells.
PMCID: PMC3381593  PMID: 23344621
delivery; immune cell; siRNA
5.  A combinatorial library of lipid-like materials for delivery of RNAi therapeutics 
Nature biotechnology  2008;26(5):561-569.
The safe and effective delivery of RNA interference (RNAi) therapeutics remains an important challenge for clinical development. The diversity of current delivery materials remains limited, in part because of their slow, multi-step syntheses. Here we describe a new class of lipid-like delivery molecules, termed lipidoids, as delivery agents for RNAi therapeutics. Chemical methods were developed to allow the rapid synthesis of a large library of over 1,200 structurally diverse lipidoids. From this library, we identified lipidoids that facilitate high levels of specific silencing of endogenous gene transcripts when formulated with either double-stranded small interfering RNA (siRNA) or single-stranded antisense 2′-O-methyl (2′-O Me) oligoribonucleotides targeting microRNA (miRNA). The safety and efficacy of lipidoids were evaluated in three animal models: mice, rats and nonhuman primates. The studies reported here suggest that these materials may have broad utility for both local and systemic delivery of RNA therapeutics.
PMCID: PMC3014085  PMID: 18438401
6.  TL1A–DR3 interaction regulates Th17 cell function and Th17-mediated autoimmune disease 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2008;205(5):1049-1062.
T helper type 17 (Th17) cells play an important pathogenic function in autoimmune diseases; their regulation, however, is not well understood. We show that the expression of a tumor necrosis factor receptor family member, death receptor 3 (DR3; also known as TNFRSF25), is selectively elevated in Th17 cells, and that TL1A, its cognate ligand, can promote the proliferation of effector Th17 cells. To further investigate the role of the TL1A–DR3 pathway in Th17 regulation, we generated a TL1A-deficient mouse and found that TL1A−/− dendritic cells exhibited a reduced capacity in supporting Th17 differentiation and proliferation. Consistent with these data, TL1A−/− animals displayed decreased clinical severity in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). Finally, we demonstrated that during EAE disease progression, TL1A was required for the optimal differentiation as well as effector function of Th17 cells. These observations thus establish an important role of the TL1A–DR3 pathway in promoting Th17 cell function and Th17-mediated autoimmune disease.
PMCID: PMC2373838  PMID: 18411337
7.  Specific and Covalent Targeting of Conjugating and Deconjugating Enzymes of Ubiquitin-Like Proteins 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2004;24(1):84-95.
Modification of proteins by ubiquitin (Ub)-like proteins (UBLs) plays an important role in many cellular processes, including cell cycle progression, nuclear transport, and autophagy. Protein modification occurs via UBL-conjugating and -deconjugating enzymes, which presumably exert a regulatory function by determining the conjugation status of the substrate proteins. To target and identify UBL-modifying enzymes, we produced Nedd8, ISG15, and SUMO-1 in Escherichia coli and equipped them with a C-terminal electrophilic trap (vinyl sulfone [VS]) via an intein-based method. These C-terminally modified UBL probes reacted with purified UBL-activating (E1), -conjugating (E2), and -deconjugating enzymes in a covalent fashion. Modified UBLs were radioiodinated and incubated with cell lysates prepared from mouse cell lines and tissues to allow visualization of polypeptides reactive with individual UBL probes. The cell type- and tissue-specific labeling patterns observed for the UBL probes reflect distinct expression profiles of active enzymes, indicating tissue-specific functions of UBLs. We identify Ub C-terminal hydrolase L1 (UCH-L1) and DEN1/NEDP1/SENP8, in addition to UCH-L3, as proteases with specificity for Nedd8. The Ub-specific protease isopeptidase T/USP5 is shown to react with ISG15-VS. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the desumoylation enzyme SuPr-1 can be modified by SUMO-1-VS, a modification that is dependent on the SuPr-1 active-site cysteine. The UBL probes described here will be valuable tools for the further characterization of the enzymatic pathways that govern modification by UBLs.
PMCID: PMC303361  PMID: 14673145

Results 1-7 (7)