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Amino Acid-Substituted Gemini Surfactant-Based Nanoparticles as Safe and Versatile Gene Delivery Agents
Gene based therapy represents an important advance in the treatment of diseases that heretofore have had either no treatment or cure. To capitalize on the true potential of gene therapy, there is a need to develop better delivery systems that can protect these therapeutic biomolecules and deliver them safely to the target sites. Recently, we have designed and developed a series of novel amino acid-substituted gemini surfactants with the general chemical formula C12H25(CH3)2N+- (CH2)3-N(AA)-(CH2)3-N+(CH3)2-C12H25 (AA= glycine, lysine, glycyl-lysine and, lysyl-lysine). These compounds were synthesized and tested in rabbit epithelial cells using a model plasmid and a helper lipid. Plasmid/gemini/lipid (P/G/L) nanoparticles formulated using these novel compounds achieved higher gene expression than the nanoparticles containing the parent unsubstituted compound. In this study, we evaluated the cytotoxicity of P/G/L nanoparticles and explored the relationship between transfection efficiency/toxicity and their physicochemical characteristics (such as size, binding properties, etc.). An overall low toxicity is observed for all complexes with no significant difference among substituted and unsubstituted compounds. An interesting result revealed by the dye exclusion assay suggests a more balanced protection of the DNA by the glycine and glycyl-lysine substituted compounds. Thus, the higher transfection efficiency is attributed to the greater biocompatibility and flexibility of the amino acid/peptide-substituted gemini surfactants and demonstrates the feasibility of using amino acid-substituted gemini surfactants as gene carriers for the treatment of diseases affecting epithelial tissue.
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A Human CXCL13-Induced Actin Polymerization Assay Measured by Fluorescence Plate Reader
The chemokine receptor CXCR5 is predominantly expressed on mature B cells and follicular T-helper cells. CXCR5 and its ligand CXCL13 participate in ectopic germinal center formation at the inflammatory sites of multiple immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and Sjogren’s syndrome. Therefore, disrupting CXCL13-induced chemotaxis may be a fruitful approach for developing therapeutics in treating these diseases. Cells undergo cytoskeletal rearrangement prior to chemotaxis, and therefore actin polymerization can be used as a surrogate readout more proximal to chemokine receptor activation than chemotaxis. Conventionally, actin polymerization is measured by fluorescence microscopy or flow cytometry, which are either of low throughput or in need of special instruments. We developed a 96-well actin polymerization assay that can process 1,000 to 1,500 samples a day. This assay uses a standard laboratory fluorescence microplate reader as the detection instrument and was optimized for various experimental conditions such as cell density, actin filament staining reagent, staining buffer, and cell culture conditions. We demonstrate that this actin polymerization assay in 96-well format exhibits the expected pharmacology for human CXCR5 and is suitable as a primary functional assay to screen neutralizing scFv in crude bacterial peri-preps and a secondary assay for small compound collections.
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Phosphorescent oxygen-sensitive materials for biological applications
A number of macromolecular probes employing different carriers and a number of microparticular probes employing different oxygen sensitive dyes were fabricated, giving a panel of oxygen sensitive probes. The photophysical and oxygen sensing properties of these probes were examined comparatively. The probes were used successfully to monitor cellular oxygen uptake and their ability to overcome a number of problems associated with oxygen sensing in biological samples was assessed. Macromolecular probes proved sufficient in a number of cases, particularly where spectral solutions can resolve the interferences. However where physical interactions cause interference the added protection of the polymer in the particle based probes was required.
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