Dendron conjugation to graphene oxide using click chemistry for efficient gene delivery†
Owing to its large surface area and rapid cellular uptake, graphene oxide (GO) is emerging as an attractive candidate material for delivery of drugs and genes. The inherent sp2 π–π interaction of GO helps to carry drugs and single stranded RNA (ssRNA) but there is no such interaction with double stranded DNA (dsDNA). In this work, a polyamidoamine (PAMAM) dendron was conjugated with nano GO (nGO) through “click” chemistry to improve the DNA complexation capability of GO as well as its transfection efficiency. The DNA complexation capability of GO was significantly enhanced after dendronization of GO yielding spherical nanosized (250–350 nm) particles of the dendronized GO (DGO)/pDNA complex with a positive zeta potential. The transfection efficiency of GO dramatically increased after conjugation of the PAMAM dendron. Transfection efficiency of 51% in HeLa cells with cell viability of 80% was observed. The transfection efficiency was significantly higher than that of polyethyleneimine 25 kDa (27% efficiency) and also surpassed that of lipofectamine 2000 (47% efficiency). The uptake of the DGO/pDNA complex by the caveolae mediated endocytosis pathway may significantly contribute to the high transfection efficiency. Thus, dendronized GO is shown to be an efficient gene carrier with minimal toxicity and is a promising candidate for use as a nonviral carrier for gene therapy.