TITLE: Branched Amphiphilic Cationic Oligopeptides Form Peptiplexes with DNA: A Study of Their Biophysical Properties and Transfection Efficiency

Authors: L. Adriana Avila, Luana R. M. M. Aps, Pinakin Sukthankar, Nicoleta Ploscariu, Sushanth Gudlur, Ladislav Šimo, Robert Szoszkiewicz, Yoonseong Park, Stella Y. Lee, Takeo Iwamoto, Luis C. S. Ferreira, John M. Tomich

Over the past decade, peptides have emerged as a new family of potential carriers in gene therapy. Peptides are easy to synthesize and quite stable. Additionally, sequences shared by the host proteome are not expected to be immunogenic or trigger inflammatory responses, which are commonly observed with viral approaches. We recently reported on a new class of branched amphiphilic peptide capsules (BAPCs) that selfassemble into extremely stable nanospheres. These capsules are capable of retaining and delivering alpha-emitting radionuclides to cells. Here we report that, in the presence of double stranded plasmid DNA, BAPCs are unable to form. Instead, depending of the peptide/DNA ratios, the peptides either coat the plasmid surface forming nanofibers (high peptide to DNA ratio) or condense the plasmid into nanometer-sized compacted
structures (at low peptide to DNA ratios). Different gene delivery efficiencies are observed for the two types of assemblies. The compacted nanometer-sized structures display much higher transfection efficiencies in HeLa cells. This level of transfection is greater than that observed for a lipid-based reagent when the total number of viable transfected cells is taken into account.