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Anionic Polymers Promote Mitochondrial Targeting of Delocalized Lipophilic Cations

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journal contribution
posted on 2020-04-09, 20:09 authored by Ziwen Jiang, Hongxu Liu, Huan He, Nagendra Yadava, James J. Chambers, S. Thayumanavan
Mitochondria are therapeutic targets in many diseases including cancer, metabolic disorders, and neurodegenerative diseases. Therefore, strategies to deliver therapeutics of interest to mitochondria are important for therapeutic development. As delocalized lipophilic cations (DLCs) preferentially accumulate in mitochondria, DLC-conjugation has been utilized to facilitate therapeutic delivery systems with mitochondrial targeting capability. Here we report that upon DLC-conjugation, anionic polymers exhibit significantly improved mitochondrial targeting when compared to cationic polymers and charge-neutral polymers. Considering that the cell membrane generally bears a net negative charge, the observed phenomenon is unexpected. Notably, the DLC-conjugated anionic polymers circumvent endosomal entrapment. The rapid mitochondrial accumulation of DLC-conjugated anionic polymers is likely a membrane-potential-driven process, along with the involvement of the mitochondrial pyruvate carrier. Moreover, the structural variations on the side chain of DLC-conjugated anionic polymers do not compromise the overall mitochondrial targeting capability, widely extending the applicability of anionic macromolecules in therapeutic delivery systems.

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