Tripartite polyionic complex (PIC) micelles as non-viral vectors for mesenchymal stem cell siRNA transfection†
In the context of regenerative medicine, the use of RNA interference mechanisms has already proven its efficiency in targeting specific gene expression with the aim of enhancing, accelerating or, more generally, directing stem cell differentiation. However, achievement of good transfection levels requires the use of a gene vector. For in vivo applications, synthetic vectors are an interesting option to avoid possible issues associated with viral vectors (safety, production costs, etc.). Herein, we report on the design of tripartite polyionic complex micelles as original non-viral polymeric vectors suited for mesenchymal stem cell transfection with siRNA. Three micelle formulations were designed to exhibit pH-triggered disassembly in an acidic pH range comparable to that of endosomes. One formulation was selected as the most promising with the highest siRNA loading capacity while clearly maintaining pH-triggered disassembly properties. A thorough investigation of the internalization pathway of micelles into cells with tagged siRNA was made before showing an efficient inhibition of Runx2 expression in primary bone marrow-derived stem cells. This work evidenced PIC micelles as promising synthetic vectors that allow efficient MSC transfection and control over their behavior, from the perspective of their clinical use.