Single-molecule total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy was used to observe the dynamic behavior of (poly)-cytosine ssDNA (1–50 nucleotides long) at the interface between aqueous solution and hydrophilic (oligoethylene oxide-modified fused silica, OEG) and hydrophobic (octadecyltriethoxysilane-modified fused silica, OTES) solid surfaces. High throughput molecular tracking was used to determine >75,000 molecular trajectories for each molecular length, which were then used to calculate surface residence time and squared displacement (i.e. “step-size”) distributions. On hydrophilic OEG surfaces, the surface residence time increased systematically with ssDNA chain length, as expected due to increasing molecule-surface interactions. Interestingly, the residence time decreased with increasing ssDNA length on the hydrophobic OTES surface, particularly for longer chains. Similarly, the interfacial mobility of polynucleotides slowed with increasing chain length on OEG, but became faster on OTES. On OTES surfaces, the rates associated with desorption and surface diffusion exhibited the distinctive anomalous temperature dependence that is characteristic of hydrophobic interactions for short chain species but not for longer chains. These combined observations suggest that long oligonucleotides adopt conformations minimizing hydrophobic interactions, e.g. by internal sequestration of hydrophobic nucleobases.
Hybrid dendritic-linear block copolymers based on a 4-arm polyethylene glycol (PEG) core were synthesized using an accelerated AB2/CD2 dendritic growth approach through orthogonal amine/epoxy and thiol-yne chemistries. The biological activity of these 4-arm and the corresponding 2-arm hybrid dendrimers revealed an enhanced, dendritic effect with an exponential increase in cell internalization concomitant with increasing amine end-groups and low cytotoxicity. Furthermore, the ability of these hybrid dendrimers to induce endosomal escape combined with their facile and efficient synthesis makes them attractive platforms for gene transfection. The 4-arm-based dendrimer showed significantly improved DNA binding and gene transfection capabilities in comparison with the 2-arm derivative. These results combined with the MD simulation indicate a significant effect of both the topology of the PEG core and the multivalency of these hybrid macromolecules, on their DNA binding and delivery capablities.
Dendrimer; polyethylene glycol; click chemistry; fluorescence microscopy; drug delivery; gene delivery
The development of multifunctional nanoparticles for medical applications is of growing technological interest. A single formulation containing imaging and/or drug moieties that is also capable of preferential uptake in specific cells would greatly enhance diagnostics and treatments. There is growing interest in plant-derived viral nanoparticles (VNPs) and establishing new platform technologies based on these nanoparticles inspired by nature. Cowpea mosaic virus (CPMV) serves as the standard model for VNPs. Although exterior surface modification is well known and has been comprehensively studied, little is known of interior modification. Additional functionality conferred by the capability for interior engineering would be of great benefit toward the ultimate goal of targeted drug delivery. Here, we examined the capacity of empty CPMV (eCPMV) particles devoid of RNA to encapsulate a wide variety of molecules. We systematically investigated the conjugation of fluorophores, biotin affinity tags, large molecular weight polymers such as polyethylene glycol (PEG), and various peptides through targeting reactive cysteines displayed selectively on the interior surface. Several methods are described that mutually confirm specific functionalization of the interior. Finally, CPMV and eCPMV were labeled with near-infrared fluorophores and studied side-by-side in vitro and in vivo. Passive tumor targeting via the enhanced permeability and retention effect and optical imaging were confirmed using a preclinical mouse model of colon cancer. The results of our studies lay the foundation for the development of the eCPMV platform in a range of biomedical applications.
Native tissues provide cells with complex, three dimensional (3D) environments comprised of hydrated networks of extracellular matrix proteins and sugars. By mimicking the dimensionality of native tissue while deconstructing the effects of environmental parameters, protein-based hydrogels serve as attractive, in vitro platforms to investigate cell-matrix interactions. For cell encapsulation, the process of hydrogel formation through physical or covalent crosslinking must be mild and cell compatible. While many chemical crosslinkers are commercially available for hydrogel formation, only a subset are cytocompatible; therefore, the identification of new and reliable cytocompatible crosslinkers allows for greater flexibility of hydrogel design for cell encapsulation applications. Here, we introduce tetrakis (hydroxymethyl) phosphonium chloride (THPC) as an inexpensive, amine-reactive, aqueous crosslinker for 3D cell encapsulation in protein-based hydrogels. We characterize the THPC-amine reaction by demonstrating its ability to react with primary and secondary amines of various amino acids. In addition, we demonstrate the utility of THPC to tune hydrogel gelation time (6.7 ± 0.2 to 27 ± 1.2 min) and mechanical properties (storage moduli ~250 Pa to ~2200 Pa) with a recombinant elastin-like protein. Lastly, we show cytocompatibility of THPC for cell encapsulation of two cell types, embryonic stem cells and neuronal cells, where cells exhibited the ability to differentiate and/or grow in elastin-like protein hydrogels.
Crosslinker; Hydrogel; Cell Encapsulation; Amine-reactive
In this study, simulation challenges intuitive models of “flexible” and “rigid” generation two triazine dendrimers as it pertains to solution conformation and conformation on binding DNA or siRNA sequences. These results derive from structural and energetic analyses of the binding events. Simulations of the rigid structure reinforce the role of the constrained piperazine linker in positioning the peripheral groups at significant distance from each other and the core of the dendrimer. In contrast, the flexible dendrimer, characterized by triethyleneglycol-like linkers, collapses in solution. On binding DNA and siRNA, these conformations are largely retained. The rigid dendrimer undergoes reorganization of peripheral groups to generate a large number of contacts to the nucleic acid. In contrast, the flexible dendrimer, originally conceived to create multivalent interactions with nucleic acids, generates only a few contacts and collapses further. This paper provides unique insight in the role played by molecular flexibility in the binding phenomenon.
Biodegradable polymers with high elasticity, low thrombogenicity, and drug loading capacity continue to be pursued for vascular engineering applications, including vascular grafts and stents. A biodegradable elastomeric polyurethane was designed as a candidate material for use as a drug-eluting stent coating, such that it was nonthrombogenic and could provide antiproliferative drug release to inhibit smooth muscle cell proliferation. A phosphorylcholine containing poly(ester urethane) urea (PEUU-PC) was synthesized by grafting aminated phosphorylcholine onto backbone carboxyl groups of a polyurethane (PEUU-COOH) synthesized from a soft segment blend of polycaprolactone and dimethylolpropionic acid, a hard segment of diisocyanatobutane and a putrescine chain extender. Poly(ester urethane) urea (PEUU) from a soft segment of polycaprolactone alone was employed as a control material. All of the synthesized polyurethanes showed high distensibility (>600%) and tensile strengths in the 20–35 MPa range. PEUUPC experienced greater degradation than PEUU or PEUU-COOH in either a saline or lipase enzyme solution. PEUU-PC also exhibited markedly inhibited ovine blood platelet deposition compared with PEUU-COOH and PEUU. Paclitaxel loaded in all of the polymers during solvent casting continued to release for 5 d after a burst release in a 10% ethanol/PBS solution, which was utilized to increase the solubility of the releasate. Rat smooth muscle cell proliferation was significantly inhibited in 1 wk cell culture when releasate from the paclitaxel-loaded films was present. Based on these results, the synthesized PEUU-PC has promising functionality for use as a nonthrombogenic, drug eluting coating on metallic vascular stents and grafts.
Trauma is the leading cause of death for people ages 1-44, with blood loss comprising 60-70% of mortality in the absence of lethal CNS or cardiac injury. Immediate intervention is critical to improving chances of survival. While there are several products to control bleeding for external and compressible wounds including pressure dressings, tourniquets or topical materials (e.g. QuikClot, HemCon), there are no products that can be administered in the field for internal bleeding. There is a tremendous unmet need for a hemostatic agent to address internal bleeding in the field.
We have developed hemostatic nanoparticles (GRGDS-NPs) that reduce bleeding times by ~50% in a rat femoral artery injury model. Here, we investigated their impact on survival following administration in a lethal liver resection injury in rats. Administration of these hemostatic nanoparticles reduced blood loss following the liver injury and dramatically and significantly increased 1-hour survival from 40 and 47% in controls (inactive nanoparticles and saline, respectively) to 80%. Furthermore, we saw no complications following administration of these nanoparticles. We further characterized the nanoparticles’ effect on clotting time (CT) and maximum clot firmness (MCF) using rotational thromboelastometry (ROTEM), a clinical measurement of whole-blood coagulation. Clotting time is significantly reduced, with no change in MCF. Administration of these hemostatic nanoparticles after massive trauma may help staunch bleeding and improve survival in the critical window following injury, and this could fundamentally change trauma care.
hemostasis; survival; clotting; platelets; bleeding
Enamel matrix self-assembly has long been suggested as the driving force behind aligned nanofibrous hydroxyapatite formation. We tested if amelogenin, the main enamel matrix protein, can self-assemble into ribbon-like structures in physiologic solutions. Ribbons 17nm wide were observed to grow several microns in length, requiring calcium, phosphate, and pH 4.0–6.0. The pH range suggests that the formation of ion bridges through protonated histidine residues is essential to self-assembly, supported by a statistical analysis of 212 phosphate-binding proteins predicting twelve phosphate-binding histidines. Thermophoretic analysis verified the importance of calcium and phosphate in self-assembly. X-ray scattering characterized amelogenin dimers with dimensions fitting the cross-section of the amelogenin ribbon, leading to the hypothesis that antiparallel dimers are the building blocks of the ribbons. Over 5–7 days, ribbons self-organized into bundles composed of aligned ribbons mimicking the structure of enamel crystallites in enamel rods. These observations confirm reports of filamentous organic components in developing enamel and provide a new model for matrix-templated enamel mineralization.
Enamel; amelogenin; self-assembly; protonated histidine; biomineralization
Substrate mechanical properties have remarkable influences on cell behavior and tissue regeneration. Although salt-leached silk scaffolds have been used in tissue engineering, applications in softer tissue regeneration can be encumbered with excessive stiffness. In the present study, silk-bound water interactions were regulated by controlling processing to allow the preparation of salt-leached porous scaffolds with tunable mechanical properties. Increasing silk-bound water interactions resulted in reduced silk II (beta-sheet crystal) formation during salt-leaching, which resulted in a modulus decrease in the scaffolds. The microstructures as well as degradation behavior were also changed, implying that this water control and salt-leaching approach can be used to achieve tunable mechanical properties. Considering the utility of silk in various fields of biomedicine, the results point to a new approach to generate silk scaffolds with controllable properties to better mimic soft tissues, by combining scaffold preparation methods and silk self-assembly in aqueous solutions.
Silk; Biomaterials; Mechanical properties; Scaffolds
From mitochondria to the nuclear envelope, the controlled assembly of micro and nanostructures is essential for life; however, the level at which we can deliberately engineer the assembly of microstructures within intracellular environments remains primitive. To overcome this obstacle, we present a platform to reversibly assemble genetically-engineered protein microdomains (GEPMs) on the time scale of minutes within living cells. Biologically inspired from the human protein tropoelastin, these protein polymers form a secondary aqueous phase above a tunable transition temperature. This assembly process is easily manipulated to occur at or near physiological temperature by adjusting molecular weight and hydrophobicity. We fused protein polymers to green fluorescent protein (GFP) to visualize their behavior within the cytoplasm. While soluble, these polymers have a similar intracellular diffusion constant as cytosolic proteins at 7.4 μm2/s; however, above their phase transition temperature, the proteins form distinct microdomains (0.1–2 μm) with a reduced diffusion coefficient of 1.1 μm2/s. Microdomain assembly and disassembly are both rapid processes with half-lives of 3.8 and 1.0 min respectively. Via selection of the protein polymer, the assembly temperature is tunable between 20 and 40 °C. This approach may be useful to control intracellular formation of genetically engineered proteins and protein complexes into concentrated microdomains.
Environmentally-responsive polypeptide; elastin-like polypeptide; inverse phase transition temperature; fluorescence recovery after photobleaching; microdomain
siRNA treatment has great promise to specifically control gene expression and select cell behaviors but have delivery challenges limiting their use. Particularly for applications in regenerative medicine, uniform and consistent delivery of siRNA to control gene expression and subsequent stem cell functions, such as differentiation, is paramount. Therefore, a diblock copolymer was examined for its ability to effective delivery siRNA to mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). The diblock copolymers, which are composed of cationic blocks for siRNA complexation, protection, and uptake and pH-responsive blocks for endosomal escape, were shown to facilitate nearly 100% MSC uptake of siRNA, which is vastly superior to a commercially-available control, DharmaFECT, which resulted in only ~60% siRNA positive MSCs. Moreover, the diblock copolymer, at conditions that result in excellent knockdown (down to ~10% of control gene expression), is cytocompatible, causing no negative effects on MSC survivability. In contrast, DharmaFECT:siRNA treatment results in only ~60% survivability of MSCs. Longitudinal knockdown after siRNA treatment was examined and protein knockdown persists for ~6 days regardless of delivery system (diblock copolymer or DharmaFECT). Finally, MSC phenotype and differentiation capacity was examined after treatment with control siRNA. There is no statistically significant differences on cell surface markers of diblock copolymer:siRNA or DharmaFECT:siRNA treated or cells measured 2 weeks after siRNA delivery compared to untreated cells. Upon differentiation with typical media/culture conditions to adipogenic, chondrogenic, and osteogenic lineages and examination of histological staining markers, there is no discernable differences between treated and untreated cells, regardless of delivery mechanism. Thus, diblock copolymers examined herein facilitate uniform siRNA treatment of MSCs, inducing siRNA-specific gene and protein knockdown without adversely affecting MSC survival or differentiation capacity and therefore show great promise for use within regenerative medicine applications.
We have investigated the self-assembly of fluorenylmethoxycarbonyl-conjugated dialanine (Fmoc-AA) molecules using combined computational and experimental approaches. Fmoc-AA gels were characterized using TEM, circular dichroism, FTIR, and WAXS. Computationally, we simulated the assembly of Fmoc-AA using molecular dynamics techniques. All simulations converged to a condensed fibril structure in which the Fmoc groups stack mostly within in the center of the fibril. However, the Fmoc groups are partially exposed to water, creating an amphiphilic surface, which may be responsible for aggregation of fibrils into nano-scale fibers observed in TEM. From the fibril models, radial distribution calculations agree with d-spacings observed in WAXS for the fibril diameter and π-stacking interactions. Our analyses show that dialanine, despite its short length, adopts a mainly extended polyproline II conformation. In contrast to previous hypotheses, these results indicate that β-sheet-like hydrogen bonding is not prevalent. Rather, stacking of Fmoc groups, inter-residue hydrogen bonding and hydrogen bonding with water play the important roles in stabilizing the fibril structure of supramolecular assemblies of short conjugated peptides.
Fmoc-dipeptide; supramolecular gel; self-assembly; replica-exchange molecular dynamics; nanofiber; molecular dynamics
Synthesis of polyesters bearing pendant amine groups with controlled molecular weights and narrow molecular weight distributions was achieved through ring-opening polymerization of 5-(4-(prop-2-yn-1-yloxy)benzyl)-1,3-dioxolane-2,4-dione, an O-carboxyanhydride derived from tyrosine, followed by thiol-yne “click” photochemistry with 2-aminoethanethiol hydrochloride. This class of biodegradable polymers displayed excellent cell penetration and gene delivery properties with low toxicities.
Functional polyester; click chemistry; thiol-yne chemistry; conjugation; biodegradable polymer; gene delivery; cell penetration; protein transduction domain
We present a new design of peptide–polymer conjugates where a polymer chain is covalently linked to the side chain of a helix bundle-forming peptide. The effect of conjugated polymer chains on the peptide structure was examined using a de novo designed three-helix bundle and a photoactive four-helix bundle. Upon attachment of poly(ethylene glycol) to the exterior of the coiled-coil helix bundle, the peptide secondary structure was stabilized and the tertiary structure, that is, the coiled-coil helix bundle, was retained. When a heme-binding peptide as an example is used, the new peptide–polymer conjugate architecture also preserves the built-in functionalities within the interior of the helix bundle. It is expected that the conjugated polymer chains act to mediate the interactions between the helix bundle and its external environment. Thus, this new peptide–polymer conjugate design strategy may open new avenues to macroscopically assemble the helix bundles and may enable them to function in nonbiological environments.
DC-specific intracellular adhesion molecule-3 grabbing non-integrin (DC-SIGN) is a receptor found on dendritic cells (DCs) that recognizes antigens bearing mannose-rich or fucosylated glycans, including Lewis X (LeX). Here, we report the fabrication of magnetic nanoparticles coated with multivalent LeX glycans using the Cu (I)-catalyzed azide-alkyne cycloaddition. The resulting nanoparticles are selective and biocompatible, serving as a highly efficient tool for DC detection and enrichment.
click chemistry; dendritic cells; glycoconjugates; magnetic nanoparticle
Biopolymers bearing hydrophobic side-chains, such as hydrophobically modified chitosan (hmC), can connect liposomes into a gel network via hydrophobic interactions. In this paper, we show that such liposome gels possess an attractive combination of properties for certain drug delivery applications. Their shear-thinning property allows these gels to be injected at a particular site, while their gel-like nature at rest ensures that the material will remain localized at that site. Moreover, drugs can be encapsulated in the interior of the liposomes and delivered at the local site for an extended period of time. The presence of two transport resistances – from the liposomal bilayer and the gel network – is shown to be responsible for the sustained release; in turn, disruption of the liposomes both weakens the gel and causes a faster release. We have monitored release kinetics from liposome gels of a cationic anti-cancer drug doxorubicin (Dox) encapsulated in liposomes. Sustained release of Dox from these gels and the concomitant cytotoxic effect could be observed for over a week.
Liposome; injectable gel; chitosan; drug release; doxorubicin
Oxime Click chemistry was used to form hydrogels that support cell adhesion. Eight-armed aminooxy poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) was mixed with glutaraldehyde to form oxime-linked hydrogels. The mechanical properties, gelation kinetics, and water swelling ratios were studied and found to be tunable. It was also shown that gels containing the integrin ligand arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (RGD) supported mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) incorporation. High cell viability and proliferation of the encapsulated cells demonstrated biocompatibility of the material.
hydrogel; oxime; stem cells; PEG; biocompatible; tissue engineering
Lipid-coated DNA nanoparticles (lipoplexes) are a powerful gene delivery tool with promising therapeutic applications. The mechanism of lipoplex assembly remains poorly understood. We explored DNA packing by a cationic lipid DSTAP (distearoyl trimethylammonium-propane) using magnetic tweezers. DSTAP-induced DNA condensation occurred as a series of bursts with the mean step size of 60 nm to 80 nm. The pause time preceding the steps could be approximated as a bimodal distribution, which reveals at least two distinct condensation pathways. The rapidly condensed DNA was more resilient to force-induced decondensation. The proportion of the stable, fast-formed complexes decreased at high salt concentrations. A similar trend was observed in bulk experiments. Lipoplexes assembled at low salt concentration more efficiently shielded DNA from fluorescent dyes and DNase even after transfer to the high salt conditions. These data reveal that lipoplex folding occurs via two parallel pathways even at the single molecule level. The progress through the two pathways can be monitored in real time using single DNA manipulations. The relative efficiency of the two pathways can be varied by external conditions.
lipoplex; cationic lipids; gene delivery; magnetic tweezers; single molecule methods; DNA packing
The antibacterial activity of a series of nitric oxide (NO)-releasing poly(propylene imine) (PPI) dendrimers was evaluated against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative pathogenic bacteria, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. A direct comparison of the bactericidal efficacy between NO-releasing and control PPI dendrimers (i.e., non-NO-releasing) revealed both enhanced biocidal action of NO-releasing dendrimers and reduced toxicity against mammalian fibroblast cells. Antibacterial activity for the NO donor-functionalized PPI dendrimers was shown to be a function of both dendrimer size (molecular weight) and exterior functionality. In addition to minimal toxicity against fibroblasts, NO-releasing PPI dendrimers modified with styrene oxide exhibited the greatest biocidal activity (≥9.999% killing) against all bacterial strains tested. The N-diazeniumdiolate NO donor-functionalized PPI dendrimers presented in this study hold promise as effective NO-based therapeutics for combating bacterial infections.
The synthesis of quaternary ammonium (QA)-functionalized silica nanoparticles with and without nitric oxide (NO) release capabilities is described. Glycidyltrialkylammonium chlorides of varied alkyl chain lengths (i.e., methyl, butyl, octyl, and dodecyl) were tethered to the surface of amine-containing silica nanoparticles via a ring-opening reaction. Secondary amines throughout the particle were then functionalized with N-diazeniumdiolates NO donors to yield dual functional nanomaterials with surface QAs and total NO payloads of ca. 0.3 μmol/mg. The bactericidal activities of singly (i.e., only NO-releasing or only QA-functionalized) and dual (i.e., NO-releasing and QA-functionalized) functional nanoparticles were tested against Grampositive Staphylococcus aureus and Gram-negative Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Particles with only NO release capabilities alone were found to be more effective against P. aeruginosa, while particles with only QA-functionalities exhibited greater toxicity toward S. aureus. The minimum bactericidal concentrations (MBC) of QA-functionalized particles decreased with increasing alkyl chain length against both microbes tested. Combining NO release and QA-functionalities on the same particle resulted in an increase in bactericidal efficacy against S. aureus; however, no change in activity against P. aeruginosa was observed compared to NO-releasing particles alone.
nitric oxide release; diazeniumdiolate; quaternary ammonium; silica nanoparticle; antimicrobial; combination therapy
There remains a tremendous need to develop targeted therapeutics that can both image and localize the toxic effects of chemotherapeutics and antagonists on diseased tissue while reducing adverse systemic effects. These needs have fostered the development of a nanotechnology-based approach that can combine targeting and toxicity potential. In this study, CPMV nanoparticles were chemically modified with the dye Alexa Flour 488 and were also tandemly modified with PEG1000 followed by AF488; and the derivatized nanoparticles were subsequently added to macrophages stimulated with either LPS (M1) or IL-4 (M2). Previously published studies have shown that M1/M2 macrophages are both present in an inflammatory microenvironment (such as a tumor microenvironment and atherosclerosis) and play opposing yet balancing roles; M2 macrophages have a delayed and progressive onset in the tumor microenvironment (concomitant with an immunosuppression of M1 macrophages). In this study, we show higher uptake of CPMV-AF488 and CPMV-PEG-AF488 by M2 macrophages compared to M1 macrophages. M1 macrophages showed no uptake of CPMV-PEG-AF488. More specifically, M2 macrophages are known to be up regulated in early atherosclerosis plaque. Indeed, previous work showed that M2 macrophages in plaque also correlate with CPMV internalization. These studies emphasize the potential effectiveness of CPMV as a tailored vehicle for targeting tumor macrophages involved in cancer metastasis, or vascular inflammation, and further highlight the potential of CPMV in targeted therapeutics against other diseases.
Cowpea mosaic virus (CPMV); macrophages; M1; M2; nanoparticle; internalization; therapeutics
Engineered tissue strategies for central nervous system (CNS) repair have the potential for localizing treatment using a wide variety of cells or growth factors. However, these strategies are often limited by their ability to address only one aspect of the injury. Here we report the development of a novel alginate construct that acts as a multi-functional tissue scaffold for CNS repair, and as a localized growth factor delivery vehicle. We show that the surface of this alginate construct acts as an optimal growth environment for neural progenitor cell (NPC) attachment, survival, migration, and differentiation. Importantly, we show that tailor-made alginate constructs containing brain-derived neurotrophic factor or neurotrophin-3 differentially direct lineage fates of NPCs and may therefore be useful in treating a wide variety of injuries. It is this potential for directed differentiation of a scaffold prior to implantation at the injury site that we explore here.
Alginate; neural progenitor cell; neurotrophic factor; genetically engineered fibroblasts; differentiation; central nervous system
To overcome the limitations of monomeric pH probes for acidic tumor environments, this study designed a mixed micelle pH probe composed of polyethylene glycol (PEG)-b- poly(L-histidine) (PHis) and PEG-b-poly(L-lactic acid) (PLLA), which is well-known as an effective antitumor drug carrier. Unlike monomeric histidine and PHis derivatives, the mixed micelles can be structurally destabilized by changes in pH, leading to a better pH sensing system in nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) techniques. The acidic pH-induced transformation of the mixed micelles allowed pH detection and pH mapping of 0.2–0.3 pH unit differences by pH-induced “on/off”-like sensing of NMR and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS). The micellar pH probes sensed pH differences in non-biological phosphate buffer and biological buffers such as cell culture medium and rat whole blood. In addition, the pH-sensing ability of the mixed micelles was not compromised by loaded doxorubicin. In conclusion, PHis-based micelles could have potential as a tool to simultaneously treat and map the pH of solid tumors in vivo.
pH imaging; poly(L-histidine); micelle pH probe; NMR; MRS
Synthetic polymer nanoparticles (NPs) that display high affinity to protein targets have significant potential for medical and biotechnological applications as protein capture agents or functional replacements of antibodies (“plastic antibodies”). In this study, we modified an immunological assay (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay: ELISA) into a high-throughput screening method to select nanoparticles with high affinity to target proteins. Histone and fibrinogen were chosen as target proteins to demonstrate this concept. The selection process utilized a biotinylated NP library constructed with combinations of functional monomers. The screen identified NPs with distinctive functional group compositions that exhibited high affinity to either histone or fibrinogen. The variation of protein affinity with changes in the nature and amount of functional groups in the NP provided chemical insight into the principle determinants of protein-NP binding. The NP affinity was semi-quantified using the ELISA-mimic assay by varying the NP concentrations. The screening results were found to correlate with solution-based assay results. This screening system utilizing a biotinalated NP is general approach to optimize functional monomer compositions and can be used to rapidly search for synthetic polymers with high (or low) affinity for target biological macromolecules.
We synthesized extremely deformable red blood cell-like microgel particles and loaded them with bovine hemoglobin (Hb) to potentiate oxygen transport. With similar shape and size as red blood cells (RBCs), the particles were fabricated using the PRINT® (Particle Replication In Non-wetting Templates) technique. Low crosslinking of the hydrogel resulted in very low mesh density for these particles, allowing passive diffusion of hemoglobin throughout the particles. Hb was secured in the particles through covalent conjugation of the lysine groups of Hb to carboxyl groups in the particles via EDC/NHS coupling. Confocal microscopy of particles bound to fluorescent dye-labeled Hb confirmed the uniform distribution of Hb throughout the particle interior, as opposed to the surface conjugation only. High loading ratios, up to 5 times the amount of Hb to polymer by weight, were obtained, without a significant effect on particle stability, shape, though particle diameter decreased slightly with Hb conjugation. Analysis of the protein by circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopy showed that the secondary structure of Hb was unperturbed by conjugation to the particles. Methemoglobin in the particles could be maintained at a low level and the loaded Hb could still bind oxygen as studied by UV-vis spectroscopy. Hb-loaded particles with moderate loading ratios demonstrated excellent deformability in microfluidic devices, easily deforming to pass through restricted pores half as wide as the diameter of the particles. The suspension of concentrated particles with Hb concentration of 5.2 g/dL showed comparable viscosity to that of mouse blood, and the particles remained intact even after being sheared at a constant high rate (1,000 1/s) for 10 min. Armed with the ability to control size, shape, deformability, and loading of Hb into RBC mimics, we will discuss the implications for artificial blood.