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Molecular and Coarse-Grained Modeling to Characterize and Optimize Dendrimer-Based Nanocarriers for Short Interfering RNA Delivery

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posted on 07.02.2020, 18:33 by Filip Stojceski, Gianvito Grasso, Lorenzo Pallante, Andrea Danani
Dendrimer nanocarriers are unique hyper-branched polymers with biomolecule-like properties, representing a promising prospect as a nucleic acid delivery system. The design of effective dendrimer-based gene carriers requires considering several parameters, such as carrier morphology, size, molecular weight, surface chemistry, and flexibility/rigidity. In detail, the rational design of the dendrimer surface chemistry has been ascertained to play a crucial role on the efficiency of interaction with nucleic acids. Within this framework, advances in the field of organic chemistry have allowed us to design dendrimers with even small difference in the chemical structure of their surface terminals. In this study, we have selected two different cationic phosphorus dendrimers of generation 3 functionalized, respectively, with pyrrolidinium (DP) and morpholinium (DM) surface groups, which have demonstrated promising potential for short interfering RNA (siRNA) delivery. Despite DP and DM differing only for one atom in their chemical structure, in vitro and in vivo experiments have highlighted several differences between them in terms of siRNA complexation properties. In this context, we have employed coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulation techniques to shed light on the supramolecular characteristics of dendrimer–siRNA complexation, the so-called dendriplex formations. Our data provide important information on self-assembly dynamics driven by surface chemistry and competition mechanisms.