Research Article


2016, 9(3): 674–684


Tailoring minimalist self-assembling peptides for localized viral vector gene delivery

Alexandra L. Rodriguez1, Ting-Yi Wang2, Kiara F. Bruggeman1, Rui Li3, Richard J. Williams4, Clare L. Parish2,§ (*), and David R. Nisbet1,§ (*)

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1 Research School of Engineering, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia
2 Florey Institute of Neuroscience & Mental Health, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC 3010, Australia
3 Centre for Chemistry and Biotechnology, Deakin University, Waurn Ponds, VIC 3217, Australia
4 School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering and the Health Innovations, Research Institute, RMIT University,Melbourne, VIC 3001, Australia
§ These authors contributed equally to this work.

Keywords: viral vectors, gene therapy, self-assembling peptides, biomaterials
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  • Abstract
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Viral vector gene delivery is a promising technique for the therapeutic administration of proteins to damaged tissue for the improvement of regeneration outcomes in various disease settings including brain and spinal cord injury, as well as autoimmune diseases. Though promising results have been demonstrated, limitations of viral vectors, including spread of the virus to distant sites, neutralization by the host immune system, and low transduction efficiencies have stimulated the investigation of biomaterials as gene delivery vehicles for improved protein expression at an injury site. Here, we show how Nfluorenylmethyloxycarbonyl (Fmoc) self-assembling peptide (SAP) hydrogels, designed for tissue-specific central nervous system (CNS) applications via incorporation of the laminin peptide sequence isoleucine–lysine–valine–alanine– valine (IKVAV), are effective as biocompatible, localized viral vector gene delivery vehicles in vivo. Through the addition of a C-terminal lysine (K) residue, we show that increased electrostatic interactions, provided by the additional amine side chain, allow effective immobilization of lentiviral vector particles, thereby limiting their activity exclusively to the site of injection and enabling focal gene delivery in vivo in a tissue-specific manner. When the C-terminal lysine was absent, no difference was observed between the number of transfected cells, the volume of tissue transfected, or the transfection efficiency with and without the Fmoc-SAP. Importantly, immobilization of the virus only affected transfection cell number and volume, with no impact observed on transfection efficiency. This hydrogel allows the sustained and targeted delivery of growth factors post injury. We have established Fmoc-SAPs as a versatile platform for enhanced biomaterial design for a range of tissue engineering applications.
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Tailoring minimalist self-assembling peptides for localized viral vector gene delivery. Nano Res. 2016, 9(3): 674–684

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