Research ArticleBIOCHEMISTRY

Covalently tethering siRNA to hydrogels for localized, controlled release and gene silencing

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Science Advances  28 Aug 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 8, eaax0801
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aax0801


Small interfering RNA (siRNA) has found many applications in tissue regeneration and disease therapeutics. Effective and localized siRNA delivery remains challenging, reducing its therapeutic potential. Here, we report a strategy to control and prolong siRNA release by directly tethering transfection-capable siRNA to photocrosslinked dextran hydrogels. siRNA release is governed via the hydrolytic degradation of ester and/or disulfide linkages between the siRNA and hydrogels, which is independent of hydrogel degradation rate. The released siRNA is shown to be bioactive by inhibiting protein expression in green fluorescent protein–expressing HeLa cells without the need of a transfection agent. This strategy provides an excellent platform for controlling nucleic acid delivery through covalent bonds with a biomaterial and regulating cellular gene expression, which has promising potential in many biomedical applications.

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