A Non-Viral Plasmid DNA Delivery System Consisting on a Lysine-Derived Cationic Lipid Mixed with a Fusogenic Lipid
The insertion of biocompatible amino acid moieties in non-viral gene nanocarriers is an attractive approach that has been recently gaining interest. In this work, a cationic lipid, consisting of a lysine-derived moiety linked to a C-12 chain (LYCl) was combined with a common fusogenic helper lipid (DOPE) and evaluated as a potential vehicle to transfect two plasmid DNAs (encoding green fluorescent protein GFP and luciferase) into COS-7 cells. A multidisciplinary approach has been followed: (i) biophysical characterization based on zeta potential, gel electrophoresis, small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), and cryo-transmission electronic microscopy (cryo-TEM); (ii) biological studies by fluorescence assisted cell sorting (FACS), luminometry, and cytotoxicity experiments; and (iii) a computational study of the formation of lipid bilayers and their subsequent stabilization with DNA. The results indicate that LYCl/DOPE nanocarriers are capable of compacting the pDNAs and protecting them efficiently against DNase I degradation, by forming L-alpha lyotropic liquid crystal phases, with an average size of similar to 200 nm and low polydispersity that facilitate the cellular uptake process. The computational results confirmed that the LYCl/DOPE lipid bilayers are stable and also capable of stabilizing DNA fragments via lipoplex formation, with dimensions consistent with experimental values. The optimum formulations (found at 20% of LYCl content) were able to complete the transfection process efficiently and with high cell viabilities, even improving the outcomes of the positive control Lipo2000*.