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Although siRNA-based nanomedicines hold promise for cancer treatment, conventional siRNA-polymer complex (polyplex) nanocarrier systems have poor pharmacokinetics following intravenous delivery, hindering tumor accumulation. Here, we determined the impact of surface chemistry on the in vivo pharmacokinetics and tumor delivery of siRNA polyplexes. A library of diblock polymers was synthesized, all containing the same pH-responsive, endosomolytic polyplex core-forming block but different corona blocks: 5 kDa (benchmark) and 20 kDa linear polyethylene glycol (PEG), 10 kDa and 20 kDa brush-like poly(oligo ethylene glycol), and 10 kDa and 20 kDa zwitterionic phosphorylcholine-based polymers (PMPC). In vitro, it was found that 20 kDa PEG and 20 kDa PMPC had the highest stability in the presence of salt or heparin and were the most effective at blocking protein adsorption. Following intravenous delivery, 20 kDa PEG and PMPC coronas both extended circulation half-lives 5-fold compared to 5 kDa PEG. However, in mouse orthotopic xenograft tumors, zwitterionic PMPC-based polyplexes showed highest in vivo luciferase silencing (>75% knockdown for 10 days with single IV 1 mg/kg dose) and 3-fold higher average tumor cell uptake than 5 kDa PEG polyplexes (20 kDa PEG polyplexes were only 2-fold higher than 5 kDa PEG). These results show that high molecular weight zwitterionic polyplex coronas significantly enhance siRNA polyplex pharmacokinetics without sacrificing polyplex uptake and bioactivity within tumors when compared to traditional PEG architectures.
A flow-through sensing platform based on open-ended porous silicon (PSi) microcavity membranes that are compatible with integration in on-chip sensor arrays is demonstrated. Because of the high aspect ratio of PSi nanopores, the performance of closed-ended PSi sensors is limited by infiltration challenges and slow sensor responses when detecting large molecules such as proteins and nucleic acids. In order to improve molecule transport efficiency and reduce sensor response time, open-ended PSi nanopore membranes were used in a flow-through sensing scheme, allowing analyte solutions to pass through the nanopores. The molecular binding kinetics in these PSi membranes were compared through experiments and simulation with those from closed-ended PSi films of comparable thickness in a conventional flow-over sensing scheme. The flow-through PSi membrane resulted in a 6-fold improvement in sensor response time when detecting a high molecular weight analyte (streptavidin) versus in the flow-over PSi approach. This work demonstrates the possibility of integrating multiple flow-through PSi sensor membranes within parallel microarrays for rapid and multiplexed label-free biosensing.
Staphylococcus lugdunensis is a coagulase negative bacterial pathogen that is particularly associated with severe cases of infectious endocarditis. Unique amongst the coagulase-negative staphylococci, S. lugdunensis harbors an iron regulated surface determinant locus (isd). This locus facilitates the acquisition of heme as a source of nutrient iron during infection and allows iron limitation caused by "nutritional immunity" to be overcome. The isd locus is duplicated in S. lugdunensis HKU09-01 and we show here that the duplication is intrinsically unstable and undergoes accordion-like amplification and segregation leading to extensive isd copy number variation. Amplification of the locus increased the level of expression of Isd proteins and improved binding of hemoglobin to the cell surface of S. lugdunensis. Furthermore, Isd overexpression provided an advantage when strains were competing for a limited amount of hemoglobin as the sole source of iron. Gene duplications and amplifications (GDA) are events of fundamental importance for bacterial evolution and are frequently associated with antibiotic resistance in many species. As such, GDAs are regarded as evolutionary adaptions to novel selective pressures in hostile environments pointing towards a special importance of isd for S. lugdunensis. For the first time we show an example of a GDA that involves a virulence factor of a Gram-positive pathogen and link the GDA directly to a competitive advantage when the bacteria were struggling with selective pressures mimicking "nutritional immunity".
Gold nanorods with varying aspect ratios have been utilized in recent years for a wide range of applications including vaccines, surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) substrates, and as medicinal therapeutic agents. The surfactant-directed seed mediated approach is an aqueous based protocol that produces monodisperse nanorods with controlled aspect ratios. However, an inherent problem with this approach is poor efficiency of gold conversion from HAuCl4 into nanorods. In fact only ∼15% of gold is converted, motivating the need for alternate synthetic protocols in order to make the process more scalable and efficient as gold nanorods progress toward commercial applications. In the current study, we have significantly improved this conversion by growing rods in several iterations of supernatant solutions that were previously discarded as waste. Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) data indicates ∼14% gold conversion per nanorod solution with a total recovery of ∼75%. Gold nanorods prepared in consecutive supernatant solutions generally have slightly increased aspect ratios and maintain stability and monodispersity as measured by UV-vis and TEM. The increased nanorod yield minimizes gold waste and results in a greener synthetic approach.
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The Notch signaling pathway is critical in development, neuronal maintenance, and hematopoiesis. An obligate step in the activation of this pathway is cleavage of its transmembrane (TM) domain by γ-secretase. While the soluble domains have been extensively studied, little has been done to characterize its TM and flanking juxtamembrane (JM) segments. Here, we present the results of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) studies of the human Notch1 TM/JM domain. The TM domain is largely α-helical. While the flanking JM segments do not adopt regular secondary structure, they interact with the membrane surface, suggesting membrane interactions may play a role in modulating its cleavage by γ-secretase and subsequent NOTCH signaling function.
Biomaterial substrates composed of semi-aligned electrospun fibers are attractive supports for the regeneration of connective tissues because the fibers are durable under cyclic tensile loads and can guide cell adhesion, orientation, and gene expression. Previous studies on supported electrospun substrates have shown that both fiber diameter and mechanical deformation can independently influence cell morphology and gene expression. However, no studies have examined the effect of mechanical deformation and fiber diameter on unsupported meshes. Semi-aligned large (1.75 μm) and small (0.60 μm) diameter fiber meshes were prepared from degradable elastomeric poly(esterurethane urea) (PEUUR) meshes and characterized by tensile testing and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Next, unsupported meshes were aligned between custom grips (with the stretch axis oriented parallel to axis of fiber alignment), seeded with C3H10T1/2 cells, and subjected to a static load (50 mN, adjusted daily), a cyclic load (4% strain at 0.25 Hz for 30 min, followed by a static tensile loading of 50 mN, daily), or no load. After 3 days of mechanical stimulation, confocal imaging was used to characterize cell shape, while measurements of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) content and messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) expression were used to characterize cell retention on unsupported meshes and expression of the connective tissue phenotype. Mechanical testing confirmed that these materials deform elastically to at least 10%. Cells adhered to unsupported meshes under all conditions and aligned with the direction of fiber orientation. Application of static and cyclic loads increased cell alignment. Cell density and mRNA expression of connective tissue proteins were not statistically different between experimental groups. However, on large diameter fiber meshes, static loading slightly elevated tenomodulin expression relative to the no load group, and tenascin-C and tenomodulin expression relative to the cyclic load group. These results demonstrate the feasibility of maintaining cell adhesion and alignment on semi-aligned fibrous elastomeric substrates under different mechanical conditions. The study confirms that cell morphology is sensitive to the mechanical environment and suggests that expression of select connective tissue genes may be enhanced on large diameter fiber meshes under static tensile loads.
The signaling phosphatidylinositol lipids PI(4,5)P2 (PIP2) and PI(3,4,5)P3 (PIP3) bind nuclear receptor 5A family (NR5As), but their regulatory mechanisms remain unknown. Here, the crystal structures of human NR5A1 (steroidogenic factor-1, SF-1) ligand binding domain (LBD) bound to PIP2 and PIP3 show the lipid hydrophobic tails sequestered in the hormone pocket, as predicted. However, unlike classic nuclear receptor hormones, the phosphoinositide head groups are fully solvent-exposed and complete the LBD fold by organizing the receptor architecture at the hormone pocket entrance. The highest affinity phosphoinositide ligand PIP3 stabilizes the coactivator binding groove and increases coactivator peptide recruitment. This receptor-ligand topology defines a previously unidentified regulatory protein-lipid surface on SF-1 with the phosphoinositide head group at its nexus and poised to interact with other proteins. This surface on SF-1 coincides with the predicted binding site of the corepressor DAX-1 (dosage-sensitive sex reversal, adrenal hypoplasia critical region on chromosome X), and importantly harbors missense mutations associated with human endocrine disorders. Our data provide the structural basis for this poorly understood cluster of human SF-1 mutations and demonstrates how signaling phosphoinositides function as regulatory ligands for NR5As.
We report a novel, low-resource malaria diagnostic platform inspired by the coffee ring phenomenon, selective for Plasmodium falciparum histidine-rich protein-II (PfHRP-II), a biomarker indicative of the P. falciparum parasite strain. In this diagnostic design, a recombinant HRP-II (rcHRP-II) biomarker is sandwiched between 1 μm Ni(II)nitrilotriacetic acid (NTA) gold-plated polystyrene microspheres (AuPS) and Ni(II)NTA-functionalized glass. After rcHRP-II malaria biomarkers had reacted with Ni(II)NTA-functionalized particles, a 1 μL volume of the particle-protein conjugate solution is deposited onto a functionalized glass slide. Drop evaporation produces the radial flow characteristic of coffee ring formation, and particle-protein conjugates are transported toward the drop edge, where, in the presence of rcHRP-II, particles bind to the Ni(II)NTA-functionalized glass surface. After evaporation, a wash with deionized water removes nonspecifically bound materials while maintaining the integrity of the surface-coupled ring produced by the presence of the protein biomarker. The dynamic range of this design was found to span 3 orders of magnitude, and rings are visible with the naked eye at protein concentrations as low as 10 pM, 1 order of magnitude below the 100 pM PfHRP-II threshold recommended by the World Health Organization. Key enabling features of this design are the inert and robust gold nanoshell to reduce nonspecific interactions on the particle surface, inclusion of a water wash step after drop evaporation to reduce nonspecific binding to the glass, a large diameter particle to project a large two-dimensional viewable area after ring formation, and a low particle density to favor radial flow toward the drop edge and reduce vertical settling to the glass surface in the center of the drop. This robust, antibody-free assay offers a simple user interface and clinically relevant limits of biomarker detection, two critical features required for low-resource malaria detection.
The highly ordered and reproducible structure of the fungal prion HET-s makes it an excellent model system for studying the inherent properties of prions, self-propagating infectious proteins that have been implicated in a number of fatal diseases. In particular, the HET-s prion-forming domain readily folds into a relatively complex two-rung β-solenoid amyloid. The faithful self-propagation of this fold involves a diverse array of inter- and intramolecular structural features. These features include a long flexible loop connecting the two rungs, buried polar residues, salt bridges, and asparagine ladders. We have used site-directed mutagenesis and X-ray fiber diffraction to probe the relative importance of these features for the formation of β-solenoid structure, as well as the cumulative effects of multiple mutations. Using fibrillization kinetics and chemical stability assays, we have determined the biophysical effects of our mutations on the assembly and stability of the prion-forming domain. We have found that a diversity of structural features provides a level of redundancy that allows robust folding and stability even in the face of significant sequence alterations and suboptimal environmental conditions. Our findings provide fundamental insights into the structural interactions necessary for self-propagation. Propagation of prion structure seems to require an obligatory level of complexity that may not be reproducible in short peptide models.
Super gas barrier nanocoatings are recently demonstrated by combining polyelectrolytes and clay nanoplatelets with layer-by-layer deposition. These nanobrick wall thin films match or exceed the gas barrier of SiOx and metallized films, but they are relatively stiff and lose barrier with significant stretching (≥ 10% strain). In an effort to impart stretchability, hydrogen-bonding polyglycidol (PGD) layers are added to an electrostatically bonded thin film assembly of polyethylenimine (PEI) and montmorillonite (MMT) clay. The oxygen transmission rate of a 125-nm thick PEI-MMT film increases more than 40x after being stretched 10%, while PGD-PEI-MMT trilayers of the same thickness maintain its gas barrier. This stretchable trilayer system has an OTR three times lower than the PEI-MMT bilayer system after stretching. This report marks the first stretchable high gas barrier thin film, which is potentially useful for applications that require pressurized elastomers.
© 2014 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.