PH-sensitive siRNA nanovector for targeted gene silencing and cytotoxic effect in cancer cells

Hyejung Mok, Omid Veiseh, Chen Fang, Forrest M. Kievit, Freddy Y. Wang, James O. Park, Miqin Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


A small interfering RNA (siRNA) nanovector with dual targeting specificity and dual therapeutic effect is developed for targeted cancer imaging and therapy. The nanovector is composed of an iron oxide magnetic nanoparticle core coated with three different functional molecules: polyethyleneimine (PEI), siRNA, and chlorotoxin (CTX). The primary amine group of PEI is blocked with citraconic anhydride that is removable at acidic conditions, not only to increase its biocompatibility at physiological conditions but also to elicit a pH-sensitive cytotoxic effect in the acidic tumor microenvironment. The PEI is covalently immobilized on the nanovector via a disulfide linkage that is cleavable after cellular internalization of the nanovector. CTX as a tumor-specific targeting ligand and siRNA as a therapeutic payload are conjugated on the nanovector via a flexible and hydrophilic PEG linker for targeted gene silencing in cancer cells. With a size of ∼60 nm, the nanovector exhibits long-term stability and good magnetic property for magnetic resonance imaging. The multifunctional nanovector exhibits both significant cytotoxic and gene silencing effects at acidic pH conditions for C6 glioma cells, but not at physiological pH conditions. Our results suggest that this nanovector system could be safely used as a potential therapeutic agent for targeted treatment of glioma as well as other cancers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1930-1939
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Pharmaceutics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 6 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery


Dive into the research topics of 'PH-sensitive siRNA nanovector for targeted gene silencing and cytotoxic effect in cancer cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this