Coordinative Amphiphiles as Tunable siRNA Transporters

In this study, we developed coordinative amphiphiles for use as novel siRNA transporters. As a modification of a conventional cationic lipid structure, we replaced the cationic head with zinc­(II)-dipicolylamine complex (Zn/DPA) as a phosphate-directing group, and used various membrane-directing groups in the place of the hydrophobic tails. These simple amphiphiles are readily synthesized and easy to modify. The Zn/DPA head groups bind to the phosphate backbones of siRNAs, and to our surprise, they prevented the enzymatic degradation of siRNAs by RNase A. Interestingly, the Zn/DPA head itself exhibited moderate transfection efficiency, and its combination with a membrane-directing groupoleoyl (CA1), pyrenebutyryl (CA2), or biotin (CA3)enhanced the delivery efficiency without imparting significant cytotoxicity. Notably, the uptake pathway was tunable depending on the nature of the membrane-directing group. CA1 delivered siRNAs mainly through caveolae-mediated endocytosis, and CA2 through clathrin- and caveolin-independent endocytosis; CA3 recruited siRNAs specifically into biotin receptor-positive HepG2 cells through receptor-mediated endocytosis. Thus, it appears possible to develop tunable siRNA transporters simply by changing the membrane-directing parts. These are the first examples of amphiphilic siRNA transporters accompanying coordinative interactions between the amphiphiles and siRNAs.