Polyion Complex Micelles for Protein Delivery Benefit from Flexible Hydrophobic Spacers in the Binding Group.

Macromolecular rapid communications (2020-06-13)
Kecheng Li, Fan Chen, Yiping Wang, Martina H Stenzel, Robert Chapman

Although a range of polymer-protein polyion complex (PIC) micelle systems have been developed in the literature, relatively little attention has been paid to the influence of polymer structure on the assembly, or to the mechanism of disassembly. In this work, Förster resonance energy transfer is used in combination with light sheet fluorescence microscopy and isothermal calorimetry to monitor the formation and stability of PIC micelles with various carboxylic-acid-based binding blocks in MCF-7 cancer spheroid models. All micelles are stable in the presence of free protein, but are unstable in solutions with an ionic strength >200 mm and prone to disassembly at reduced pH. Introducing carbon spacers between the backbone and the binding carboxylic acid results in improved PIC micelle stability at physiological pH, but also increases the pKa of the binding moiety, resulting in improved protein release upon cell uptake. These results give important insights into how to tune PIC micelle stability for controlled protein release in biological environments.

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2-Carboxyethyl acrylate, contains 900-1100 ppm MEHQ as inhibitor
2-Chloroethyl acrylate, contains >100 ppm MEHQ as inhibitor, 97%