Nonviral gene editing via CRISPR/Cas9 delivery by membrane-disruptive and endosomolytic helical polypeptide

Wang, Hong-Xia; Song, Ziyuan; Lao, Yeh-Hsing; Xu, Xin; Gong, Jing; Cheng, Du; Chakraborty, Syandan; Park, Ji Sun; Li, Mingqiang; Huang, Dantong; Yin, Lichen; Cheng, Jianjun; Leong, Kam W.

Effective and safe delivery of the CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing elements remains a challenge. Here we report the development of PEGylated nanoparticles (named P-HNPs) based on the cationic α-helical polypeptide poly(γ-4-((2-(piperidin-1-yl)ethyl)aminomethyl)benzyl-L-glutamate) for the delivery of Cas9 expression plasmid and sgRNA to various cell types and gene-editing scenarios. The cell-penetrating α-helical polypeptide enhanced cellular uptake and promoted escape of pCas9 and/or sgRNA from the endosome and transport into the nucleus. The colloidally stable P-HNPs achieved a Cas9 transfection efficiency up to 60% and sgRNA uptake efficiency of 67.4%, representing an improvement over existing polycation-based gene delivery systems. After performing single or multiplex gene editing with an efficiency up to 47.3% in vitro, we demonstrated that P-HNPs delivering Cas9 plasmid/sgRNA targeting the polo-like kinase 1 (Plk1) gene achieved 35% gene deletion in HeLa tumor tissue to reduce the Plk1 protein level by 66.7%, thereby suppressing the tumor growth by >71% and prolonging the animal survival rate to 60% within 60 days. Capable of delivering Cas9 plasmids to various cell types to achieve multiplex gene knock-out, gene knock-in, and gene activation in vitro and in vivo, the P-HNP system offers a versatile gene-editing platform for biological research and therapeutic applications.


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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

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Academic Units
Biomedical Engineering
Published Here
November 2, 2018