We have developed new formulations of nanohydrogels (NHGs) complexed with DNA devoid of cell toxicity, which, together with their tuned sizes, makes them of great interest for delivering DNA/RNA for foreign protein expression. Transfection results demonstrate that, unlike classical lipo/polyplexes, the new NHGs can be incubated indefinitely with cells without apparent cellular toxicity, resulting in the high expression of foreign proteins for long periods of time. Although protein expression starts with a delay as compared to classical systems, it is sustained for a long period of time, even after passing cells without observation of toxicity. A fluorescently labelled NHG used for gene delivery was detected inside cells very early after incubation, but the protein expression was delayed by many days, demonstrating that there is a time-dependent release of genes from the NHGs. We suggest that this delay is due to the slow but continuous release of DNA from the particles concomitantly with slow but continuous protein expression. Additionally, results obtained after the in vivo administration of m-Cherry/NHG complexes indicated a delayed but prolonged expression of the marker gene in the tissue of administration. Overall, we have demonstrated gene delivery and foreign protein expression using GFP and m-Cherry marker genes complexed with biocompatible nanohydrogels.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was funded by the Israeli Academy of Science (grant number: ISF1482/22) and the Marcus Center for Medicinal Chemistry.
© 2023 by the authors.
- cationic nanohydrogels
- non-viral gene delivery