Quantitative contributions of processes by which polyanion drugs reduce intracellular bioavailability and transfection efficiency of cationic siRNA lipoplex

Pharavee Jaiprasart, Bertrand Z. Yeung, Ze Lu, M. Guillaume Wientjes, Minjian Cui, Chien Ming Hsieh, Sukyung Woo, Jessie L.S. Au

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


RNA Interference (RNAi) is a potentially useful tool to correct the detrimental effects of faulty genes; several RNAi are undergoing clinical evaluation in various diseases. The present study identified the relative contributions of three mechanisms by which polyanion drugs reduced the gene silencing activity of Lipoplex, a complex of small interfering RNA (siRNA) and cationic liposomes. The study used a siRNA against the chemoresistance gene survivin and two model polyanion drugs (suramin, heparin). Products of Lipoplex destabilization were separated, identified, and/or quantified using ultrafiltration, gel electrophoresis, and RT-qPCR (quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction). Cell binding and endocytosis of fluorescence-labeled Lipoplex and the amount of siRNA at its site of action RISC (RNA-induced silencing complex) were evaluated using endocytosis markers, confocal microscopy, quantitative image analysis, immunoprecipitation, and RT-qPCR. The results show suramin and heparin exerted multiple concentration-dependent effects. First, these agents altered several Lipoplex properties (i.e., reduced particle size, changed surface charge, modified composition of protein biocorona). Second, both caused Lipoplex destabilization to release double- and single-strand siRNA and/or smaller siRNA-lipid complexes with reduced siRNA cargo. Third, both prevented the cell surface binding and internalization of Lipoplex, diminished the siRNA concentration in RISC, and retarded the mRNA knockdown. Suramin and heparin yielded qualitatively and quantitatively different results. Analysis of the experimental results of suramin using quantitative pharmacology (QP) modeling indicated the major cause of gene silencing activity loss depended on drug concentration, changing from inhibition of endocytosis at lower concentration (accounting for 60% loss at ~ 9 μM) to inhibition of cell surface binding and loss of siRNA cargo at higher concentrations (accounting for 64% and 27%, respectively, at 70 μM). In summary, the present study demonstrates the complex and dynamic interactions between polyanions and Lipoplex, and the use of QP modeling to delineate the contributions of three mechanisms to the eventual loss of gene silencing activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-113
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Controlled Release
Publication statusPublished - Jan 28 2018


  • Anionic drug
  • Binding
  • Biocorona
  • Destabilization
  • Internalization
  • siRNA lipoplex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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