Efficient gene delivery of tailored amphiphilic polypeptides by polyplex surfing.
Within this study, an amphiphilic and potentially biodegradable polypeptide library based on poly[(4-aminobutyl)-l-glutamine-stat-hexyl-l-glutamine] [P(AB-l-Gln-stat-Hex-l-Gln)] was investigated for gene delivery. The influence of varying proportions of aliphatic and cationic side chains affecting the physicochemical properties of the polypeptides on transfection efficiency was investigated. A composition of 40 mol% Hex-l-Gln and 60 mol % AB-l-Gln (P3) was identified as best performer over polypeptides with higher proportions of protonatable monomers. Detailed studies of the transfection mechanism revealed the strongest interaction of P3 with cell membranes, promoting efficient endocytic cell uptake and high endosomal release. Spectrally, time-, and z-resolved fluorescence microscopy further revealed the crucial role of filopodia surfing in polyplex-cell interaction and particle internalization in lamellipodia regions, followed by rapid particle transport into cells. This study demonstrates the great potential of polypeptides for gene delivery. The amphiphilic character improves performance over cationic homopolypeptides, and the potential biodegradability is advantageous toward other synthetic polymeric delivery systems.