The synthesis and characterization of a gold nanoparticle functionalized mesoporous silica nanoparticle (Au-MSN) platform for codelivery of proteins and plasmid DNA to plant tissues using a biolistic particle delivery system is reported. The in vitro uptake and release profiles of fluorescently labeled bovine serum albumin (BSA) and enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) are investigated. As a proof-of-concept demonstration, Au-MSN with large average pore diameters (10 nm) are shown to deliver and subsequently release proteins and plasmid DNA to the same cell after passing through the plant cell wall upon bombardment. Release of fluorescent eGFP indicates the delivery of active, non-denatured proteins to plant cells. This advance represents the first example of biolistic-mediated codelivery of proteins and plasmid DNA to plant cells via gold-functionalized MSN and provides a powerful tool for both fundamental and applied research of plant sciences.
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