Peptide-functionalized dendrimer nanocarriers for targeted microdystrophin gene delivery

Jessica Hersh, José Manuel Condor Capcha, Camila Iansen Irion, Guerline Lambert, Mauricio Noguera, Mohit Singh, Avinash Kaur, Emre Dikici, Joaquín J. Jiménez, Lina A. Shehadeh, Sylvia Daunert, Sapna K. Deo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Gene therapy is a good alternative for determined congenital disorders; however, there are numerous limitations for gene delivery in vivo including targeted cellular uptake, intracellular trafficking, and transport through the nuclear membrane. Here, a modified G5 polyamidoamine (G5 PAMAM) dendrimer–DNA complex was developed, which will allow cell-specific targeting to skeletal muscle cells and transport the DNA through the intracellular machinery and the nuclear membrane. The G5 PAMAM nanocarrier was modified with a skeletal muscle-targeting peptide (SMTP), a DLC8-binding peptide (DBP) for intracellular transport, and a nuclear localization signaling peptide (NLS) for nuclear uptake, and polyplexed with plasmid DNA containing the GFP-tagged microdystrophin (µDys) gene. The delivery of µDys has been considered as a therapeutic modality for patients suffering from a debilitating Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) disorder. The nanocarrier–peptide–DNA polyplexes were prepared with different charge ratios and characterized for stability, size, surface charge, and cytotoxicity. Using the optimized nanocarrier polyplexes, the transfection efficiency in vitro was determined by demonstrating the expression of the GFP and the µDys protein using fluorescence and Western blotting studies, respectively. Protein expression in vivo was determined by injecting an optimal nanocarrier polyplex formulation to Duchenne model mice, mdx4Cv. Ultimately, these nanocarrier polyplexes will allow targeted delivery of the microdystrophin gene to skeletal muscle cells and result in improved muscle function in Duchenne muscular dystrophy patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2159
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Functional peptides
  • Gene delivery
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Nanocarriers
  • Targeted delivery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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