Enhanced Delivery of Plasmid DNA to Skeletal Muscle Cells using a DLC8-Binding Peptide and ASSLNIA-Modified PAMAM Dendrimer

Samuel D. Jativa, Neelanshu Thapar, David Broyles, Emre Dikici, Pirouz Daftarian, Joaquín J. Jiménez, Sylvia Daunert, Sapna K. Deo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Skeletal muscle is ideally suited and highly desirable as a target for therapeutic gene delivery because of its abundance, high vascularization, and high levels of protein expression. However, efficient gene delivery to skeletal muscle remains a current challenge. Besides the major obstacle of cell-specific targeting, efficient intracellular trafficking, or the cytosolic transport of DNA to the nucleus, must be demonstrated. To overcome the challenge of cell-specific targeting, herein we develop a generation 5-polyamidoamine dendrimer (G5-PAMAM) functionalized with a skeletal muscle-targeted peptide, ASSLNIA (G5-SMTP). Specifically, to demonstrate the feasibility of our approach, we prepared a complex of our G5-SMTP dendrimer with a plasmid encoding firefly luciferase and investigated its delivery to skeletal muscle cells. Luciferase assays indicated a threefold increase in transfection efficiency of C2C12 murine skeletal muscle cells using G5-SMTP when compared with nontargeting nanocarriers using unmodified G5. To further improve the transfection yield, we employed a cationic dynein light chain 8 protein (DLC8)-binding peptide (DBP) containing an internal sequence known to bind to the DLC8 of the dynein motor protein complex. Complexation of DBP with our targeting nanocarrier, that is, G5-SMTP, and our luciferase plasmid cargo resulted in a functional nanocarrier that showed an additional sixfold increase in transfection efficiency compared with G5-SMTP transfection alone. To our knowledge, this is the first successful use of two different functional nanocarrier components that enable targeted skeletal muscle cell recognition and increased efficiency of intracellular trafficking to synergistically enhance gene delivery to skeletal muscle cells. This strategy of targeting and trafficking can also be universally applied to any cell/tissue type for which a recognition domain exists.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2376-2384
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Pharmaceutics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 3 2019


  • PAMAM dendrimer
  • cytoplasmic transport
  • dynein light chain targeting
  • plasmid transfection
  • skeletal muscle targeting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery


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