CAGW Peptide- and PEG-Modified Gene Carrier for Selective Gene Delivery and Promotion of Angiogenesis in HUVECs in Vivo


Gene therapy is a promising strategy for angiogenesis, but developing gene carriers with low cytotoxicity and high gene delivery efficiency in vivo is a key issue. In the present study, we synthesized the CAGW peptide- and poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG)-modified amphiphilic copolymers. CAGW peptide serves as a targeting ligand for endothelial cells (ECs). Different amounts of CAGW peptide were effectively conjugated to the amphiphilic copolymer via heterofunctional poly(ethylene glycol). These CAG- and PEG-modified copolymers could form nanoparticles (NPs) by self-assembly method and were used as gene carriers for the pEGFP-ZNF580 (pZNF580) plasmid. CAGW and PEG modification coordinately improved the hemocompatibility and cytocompatibility of NPs. The results of cellular uptake showed significantly enhanced internalization efficiency of pZNF580 after CAGW modification. Gene expression at mRNA and protein levels demonstrated that EC-targeted NPs possessed high gene delivery efficiency, especially the NPs with higher content of CAGW peptide (1.16 wt %). Furthermore, in vitro and in vivo vascularization assays also showed outstanding vascularization ability of human umbilical vein endothelial cells treated by the NP/pZNF580 complexes. This study demonstrates that the CAGW peptide-modified NP is a promising candidate for gene therapy in angiogenesis.
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