European journal of medicinal chemistry

Rigid aromatic linking moiety in cationic lipids for enhanced gene transfection efficiency.

PMID 28550810


Although numerous cationic lipids have been developed as non-viral gene vectors, the structure-activity relationship (SAR) of these materials remains unclear and needs further investigation. In this work, a series of lysine-derived cationic lipids containing linkages with different rigidity were designed and synthesized. SAR studies showed that lipids with rigid aromatic linkage could promote the formation of tight liposomes and enhance DNA condensation, which is essential for the gene delivery process. These lipids could give much higher transfection efficiency than those containing more flexible aliphatic linkage in various cell lines. Moreover, the rigid aromatic linkage also affords the material higher serum tolerance ability. Flow cytometry assay revealed that the target lipids have good cellular uptake, while confocal microscopy observation showed weaker endosome escape than Lipofectamine 2000. To solve such problem and further increase the transfection efficiency, some lysosomotropic reagents were used to improve the endosome escape of lipoplex. As expected, higher transfection efficiency than Lipofectamine 2000 could be obtained via this strategy. Cytotoxicity assay showed that these lipids have lower toxicity in various cell lines than Lipofectamine 2000, suggesting their potential for further application. This work demonstrates that a rigid aromatic linkage might distinctly improve the gene transfection abilities of cationic lipids and affords information to construct safe and efficient gene vector towards practical application.