Highly efficient gene silencing and bioimaging based on fluorescent carbon dots in vitro and in vivo

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Nano Research, ISSN: 1998-0000, Vol: 10, Issue: 2, Page: 503-519

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Kim, Seongchan; Choi, Yuri; Park, Ginam; Won, Cheolhee; Park, Young-Joon; Lee, Younghoon; Kim, Byeong-Su; Min, Dal-Hee
Materials Science; Engineering; bioimaging; carbon dot; gene delivery; RNA interference; targeted cancer therapy
article description
Small interfering RNA (siRNA) is an attractive therapeutic candidate for sequence-specific gene silencing to treat incurable diseases using small molecule drugs. However, its efficient intracellular delivery has remained a challenge. Here, we have developed a highly biocompatible fluorescent carbon dot (CD), and demonstrate a functional siRNA delivery system that induces efficient gene knockdown in vitro and in vivo. We found that CD nanoparticles (NPs) enhance the cellular uptake of siRNA, via endocytosis in tumor cells, with low cytotoxicity and unexpected immune responses. Real-time study of fluorescence imaging in live cells shows that CD NPs favorably localize in cytoplasm and successfully release siRNA within 12 h. Moreover, we demonstrate that CD NP-mediated siRNA delivery significantly silences green fluorescence protein (GFP) expression and inhibits tumor growth in a breast cancer cell xenograft mouse model of tumor-specific therapy. We have developed a multifunctional siRNA delivery vehicle enabling simultaneous bioimaging and efficient downregulation of gene expression, that shows excellent potential for gene therapy. [Figure not available: see fulltext.]