The translation of siRNA into clinical therapies has been significantly delayed by issues surrounding the delivery of naked siRNA to target cells. Here we investigate siRNA delivery by cationic acrylic polymers developed by Reversible Addition-Fragmentation chain Transfer (RAFT) mediated free radical polymerization. We investigated cell uptake and gene silencing of a series of siRNA-star polymer complexes both in the presence and absence of a protein "corona". Using a multidisciplinary approach including quantitative nanoscale mechanical-atomic force microscopy, dynamic light scattering and nanoparticle tracking analysis we have characterized the nanoscale morphology, stiffness, and surface charge of the complexes with and without the protein corona. This is one of the first examples of a comprehensive physiochemical analysis of siRNA-polymer complexes being performed alongside in vitro biological assays, allowing us to describe a set of desirable physical features of cationic polymer complexes that promote gene silencing. Multifaceted studies such as this will improve our understanding of structure-function relationships in nanotherapeutics, facilitating the rational design of polymer-mediated siRNA delivery systems for novel treatment strategies.
- nonviral gene