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Tuning Composition of Polymer and Porous Silicon Composite Nanoparticles for Early Endosome Escape of Anti-microRNA Peptide Nucleic Acids


Kelly IBIsom B , Fletcher RBR Brock , McBride JRJames R , Weiss SMSharon M , Duvall CLCraig L . ACS applied materials & interfaces. 2020 8 21; 12(35). 39602-39611


Porous silicon nanoparticles (PSNPs) offer tunable pore structure and easily modified surface chemistry, enabling high loading capacity for drugs with diverse chemicophysical properties. While PSNPs are also cytocompatible and degradable, PSNP integration into composite structures can be a useful approach to enhance carrier colloidal stability, drug-cargo loading stability, and endosome escape. Here, we explored PSNP polymer composites formed by coating of oxidized PSNPs with a series of poly[ethylene glycol–(dimethylaminoethyl methacrylate–butyl methacrylate)] (PEG-DB) diblock copolymers with varied molar ratios of dimethylaminoethyl methacrylate (D) and butyl methacrylate (B) in the random copolymer block. We screened and developed PSNP composites specifically toward intracellular delivery of microRNA inhibitory peptide nucleic acids (PNA). While a copolymer with 50 mol % B (50B) is optimal for early endosome escape in free polymer form, its pH switch was suppressed when it was formed into 50B polymer-coated PSNP composites (50BCs). We demonstrate that a lower mol % B (30BC) is the ideal PEG-DB composition for PSNP/PEG-DB nanocomposites based on having both the highest endosome disruption potential and miR-122 inhibitory activity. At a 1 mM PNA dose, 30BCs facilitated more potent inhibition of miR-122 in comparison to 40BC ( = 0.0095), 50BC ( < 0.0001), or an anti-miR-122 oligonucleotide delivered with the commercial transfection reagent Fugene 6. Using a live cell galectin 8-based endosome disruption reporter, 30BCs had greater endosomal escape than 40BCs and 50BCs within 2 h after treatment, suggesting that rapid endosome escape correlates with higher intracellular bioactivity. This study provides new insight on the polymer structure-dependent effects on stability, endosome escape, and cargo intracellular bioavailability for endosomolytic polymer-coated PSNPs.