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Protein-polymer conjugates were investigated as nonviral gene delivery vectors. BSA-poly(dimethylamino) ethyl methacrylate (PDMA) nanoparticles (nBSA) were synthesized using in situ atom transfer radical polymerization (in situ ATRP) and BSA as a macroinitiator. The diameter and charge of nBSA was a function of the ATRP reaction time and ranged from 5 to 15 nm and +8.9 to +22.5, respectively. nBSA were able to condense plasmid DNA (pDNA) and form polyplexes with an average diameter of 50 nm. nBSA/pDNA polyplexes transfected cells with similar efficiencies or better as compared to linear and branched PEI. Interestingly, the nBSA particle diameter and charge did not affect pDNA complexation and transgene expression, indicating that the same gene delivery efficiency can be achieved with lower charge ratios. We believe that with the use of protein-polymer conjugates additional functionality could be introduced to polyplexes by using different protein cores and, thus, they pose an interesting alternative to the design of nonviral gene delivery vectors.

Jianjun Zhang, Yuguo Lei, Anandika Dhaliwal, Quinn KT Ng, Juanjuan Du, Ming Yan, Yunfeng Lu, Tatiana Segura

Zhang J, Lei Y, Dhaliwal A, Ng QK, Du J, Yan M, Lu Y, Segura T