Construction, gene delivery, and expression of DNA tethered nanoparticles

Prow Tarl, Jacob N. Smith, Rhonda Grebe, Jose H. Salazar, Nan Wang, Nicholas Kotov, Gerald Lutty, James Leary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Purpose: Layered nanoparticles have the potential to deliver any number of substances to cells both in vitro and in vivo. The purpose of this study was to develop and test a relatively simple alternative to custom synthesized nanoparticles for use in multiple biological systems, with special focus on the eye. Methods: The biotin-labeled transcriptionally active PCR products (TAP) were conjugated to gold, semiconductor nanocrystals, and magnetic nanoparticles (MNP) coated with streptavidin. The process of nanoparticle construction was monitored with gel electrophoresis. Fluorescence microscopy followed by image analysis was used to examine gene expression levels from DNA alone and tethered MNP in human hepatoma derived Huh-7 cells. Adult retinal endothelial cells from both dog (ADREC) and human (HREC) sources were transfected with nanoparticles and reporter gene expression evaluated with confocal and fluorescent microscopy. Transmission electron microscopy was used to quantify the concentration of nanoparticles in a stock solution. Nanoparticles were evaluated for transfection efficiency, determined by fluorescence microscopy cell counts. Cells treated with MNP were evaluated for increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) and necrosis with flow cytometry. Results: Both 5′ and 3′ biotin-labeled TAP bound equally to MNP and there were no differences in functionality between the two tethering orientations. Free DNA was easily removed by the use of magnetic columns. These particles were also able to deliver genes to a human hepatoma cell line, Huh-7, but transfection efficiency was greater than TAP. The semiconductor nanocrystals and MNP had the highest transfection efficiencies. The MNP did not induce ROS formation or necrosis after 48 h of incubation. Conclusions: Once transfected, the MNP had reporter gene expression levels equivalent to TAP. The nanoparticles, however, had better transfection efficiencies than TAP. The magnetic nanoparticles were the most easily purified of all the nanoparticles tested. This strategy for bioconjugating TAP to nanoparticles is valuable because nanoparticle composition can be changed and the system optimized quickly. Since endothelial cells take up MNP, this strategy could be used to target neovascularization as occurs in proliferative retinopathies. Multiple cell types were used to test this technology and in each the nanoparticles were capable of transfection. In adult endothelial cells the MNP appeared innocuous, even at the highest doses tested with respect to ROS and necrosis. This technology has the potential to be used as more than just a vector for gene transfer, because each layer has the potential to perform its own unique function and then degrade to expose the next functional layer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)606-615
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular vision
StatePublished - May 26 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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