Co-assembled Ca2+ Alginate-Sulfate Nanoparticles for Intracellular Plasmid DNA Delivery

Matan Goldshtein, Stav Shamir, Ekaterina Vinogradov, Alon Monsonego, Smadar Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Successful gene therapy requires the development of suitable carriers for the selective and efficient delivery of genes to specific target cells, with minimal toxicity. In this work, we present a non-viral vector for gene delivery composed of biocompatible materials, CaCl2, plasmid DNA and the semi-synthetic anionic biopolymer alginate sulfate (AlgS), which spontaneously co-assembled to form nanoparticles (NPs). The NPs were characterized with a slightly anionic surface charge (Zeta potential [ζ] = −14 mV), an average size of 270 nm, and their suspension was stable for several days with no aggregation. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) validated their ternary composition, and it elucidated the molecular interactions among Ca2+, the plasmid DNA, and the AlgS. Efficient cellular uptake (>80%), associated with potent GFP gene expression (22%–35%), was observed across multiple cell types: primary rat neonatal cardiac fibroblasts, human breast cancer cell line, and human hepatocellular carcinoma cells. The uptake mechanism of the NPs was studied using imaging flow cytometry and shown to be via active, clathrin-mediated endocytosis, as chemical inhibition of this pathway significantly reduced EGFP expression. The NPs were cytocompatible and did not activate the T lymphocytes in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Proof of concept for the efficacy of these NPs as a carrier in cancer gene therapy was demonstrated for Diphtheria Toxin Fragment A (DT-A), resulting in abrogation of protein synthesis and cell death in the human breast cancer cell line. Collectively, our results show that the developed AlgS-Ca2+-plasmid DNA (pDNA) NPs may be used as an effective non-viral carrier for pDNA.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)378-390
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Therapy Nucleic Acids
StatePublished - 7 Jun 2019


  • alginate sulfate
  • calcium
  • gene therapy
  • plasmid DNA
  • polymeric nanoparticles

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Drug Discovery


Dive into the research topics of 'Co-assembled Ca2+ Alginate-Sulfate Nanoparticles for Intracellular Plasmid DNA Delivery'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this