Bifunctional Au-Templated RNA Nanoparticles enable Direct Cell Uptake and GRP75 Knockdown in Prostate Cancer
Nucleic acids templated on gold (Au) surfaces have led to a wide range of functional materials ranging from microarrays, sensors and probes in addition to drug delivery and treatment. In this application, we describe a simple and novel method for templating amino-functionalized RNA onto Au surfaces and their self-assembly into small, discrete nanoparticles. In our method, sample hybridization with a complementary RNA strand with and without a fatty acid (palmitamide) appendage produced functionalized double-stranded RNA on the Au surface. The resulting Au-functionalized RNA particles were found to be stable under reducing conditions according to UV-Vis spectroscopy. Sample characterization by DLS and TEM confirmed self-assembly into primarily small (~10-40 nm) spherical shaped nanoparticles expected to be amenable to cell biology. However, fluorescence emission (λexc: 350 nm, λem: 650 nm) revealed radiative properties which limited cell uptake detection. Introduction of FITC within the Au-functionalized RNA particles produced a bifunctional probe, in which FITC fluorescence emission (λexc: 494 nm, λem: 522 nm) facilitated cell uptake detection, in a time-dependent manner. The dual encapsulation-release profiles of the FITC-labeled Au-functionalized RNA particles were validated by time-dependent UV-Vis spectroscopy and spectrofluorimetry. These experiments respectively indicated an increase in FITC absorption (λabs: 494 nm) and fluorescence emission (λem: 522 nm) with increased sample incubation times, under physiological conditions. The release of Au-functionalized siRNA particles in prostate cancer (PC-3) cells resulted in concomitant knockdown of GRP75, which led to detectable levels of cell death in the absence of a transfection vector. Thus, the formulation of stable, small and discrete Au-functionalized RNA nanoparticles may prove to be valuable bifunctional probes in the theranostic study of cancer cells.