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Peptide Nanofiber Complexes with siRNA for Deep Brain Gene Silencing by Stereotactic Neurosurgery

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journal contribution
posted on 24.02.2015 by Mariarosa Mazza, Marilena Hadjidemetriou, Irene de Lázaro, Cyrill Bussy, Kostas Kostarelos
Peptide nanofibers (PNFs) are one-dimensional assemblies of amphiphilic peptides in a cylindrical geometry. We postulated that peptide nanofibers (PNFs) can provide the tools for genetic intervention and be used for delivery of siRNA, as they can be engineered with positively charged amino acids that can electrostatically bind siRNA. The aim of this work was to investigate the use of PNFs as vectors for siRNA delivery providing effective gene knockdown. We designed a surfactant-like peptide (palmitoyl-GGGAAAKRK) able to self-assemble into PNFs and demonstrated that complexes of PNF:siRNA are uptaken intracellularly and increase the residence time of siRNA in the brain after intracranial administration. The biological activity of the complexes was investigated in vitro by analyzing the down-regulation of the expression of a targeted protein (BCL2), as well as induction of apoptosis, as well as in vivo by analyzing the relative gene expression upon stereotactic administration into a deep rat brain structure (the subthalamic nucleus). Gene expression levels of BCL2 mRNA showed that PNF:siBCL2 constructs were able to silence the target BCL2 in specific loci of the brain. Silencing of the BCL2 gene resulted in ablation of neuronal cell populations, indicating that genetic interventions by PNF:siRNA complexes may lead to novel treatment strategies of CNS pathologies.