Surfactant like peptides for targeted gene delivery to cancer cells

Roja Hadianamrei, Mhd Anas Tomeh, Jiqian Wang, Stephen Brown, Xiubo Zhao

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Surfactant like peptides (SLPs) are a class of amphiphilic peptides widely used for drug delivery and tissue engineering. However, there are very few reports on their application for gene delivery. The current study was aimed at development of two new SLPs, named (IA)4K and (IG)4K, for selective delivery of antisense oligodeoxynucleotides (ODNs) and small interfering RNA (siRNA) to cancer cells. The peptides were synthesized by Fmoc solid phase synthesis. Their complexation with nucleic acids was studied by gel electrophoresis and DLS. The transfection efficiency of the peptides was assessed in HCT 116 colorectal cancer cells and human dermal fibroblasts (HDFs) using high content microscopy. The cytotoxicity of the peptides was assessed by standard MTT test. The interaction of the peptides with model membranes was studied using CD spectroscopy. Both SLPs delivered siRNA and ODNs to HCT 116 colorectal cancer cells with high transfection efficiency which was comparable to the commercial lipid-based transfection reagents, but with higher selectivity for HCT 116 compared to HDFs. Moreover, both peptides exhibited very low cytotoxicity even at high concentrations and long exposure time. The current study provides more insights into the structural features of SLPs required for nucleic acid complexation and delivery and can therefore serve as a guide for the rational design of new SLPs for selective gene delivery to cancer cells to minimize the adverse effects in healthy tissues.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-45
Number of pages11
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Early online date13 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 16 Apr 2023


  • gene delivery
  • surfactant like peptides
  • lipid like peptides
  • siRNA
  • antisense oligodeoxynucleotides
  • cancer cell selectivity
  • UKRI
  • EP/N007174/1
  • EP/N023579/1

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