The sequence-dependent cellular uptake of spherical nucleic acid nanoparticle conjugates (SNAs) is investigated. This process occurs by interaction with class A scavenger receptors (SR-A) and caveolae-mediated endocytosis. It is known that linear poly(guanine) (poly G) is a natural ligand for SR-A, and it has been proposed that interaction of poly G with SR-A is dependent on the formation of G-quadruplexes. Since G-rich oligonucleotides are known to interact strongly with SR-A, it is hypothesized that SNAs with higher G contents would be able to enter cells in larger amounts than SNAs composed of other nucleotides, and as such, cellular internalization of SNAs is measured as a function of constituent oligonucleotide sequence. Indeed, SNAs with enriched G content show the highest cellular uptake. Using this hypothesis, a small molecule (camptothecin) is chemically conjugated with SNAs to create drug-SNA conjugates and it is observed that poly G SNAs deliver the most camptothecin to cells and have the highest cytotoxicity in cancer cells. Our data elucidate important design considerations for enhancing the intracellular delivery of spherical nucleic acids.
- cellular uptake
- spherical nucleic acids