The covalent bioconjugate of multiwalled carbon nanotube and amino-modified linearized plasmid DNA for gene delivery



Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are allotropes of carbon, which have unique physical, mechanical, and electronic properties. Among various biomedical applications, CNTs also attract interest as nonviral gene delivery systems. Functionalization of CNTs with cationic groups enables delivery of negatively charged DNA into cells. In contrast to this well-known strategy for DNA delivery, our approach included the covalent attachment of linearized plasmid DNA to carboxylated multiwalled CNTs (MWCNTs). Carboxyl groups were introduced onto MWCNTs by oxidative treatment, and then the carboxyl groups were activated by 1-ethyl-3-(3-dimethylaminopropyl)carbodiimide (EDC). The whole pQE-70 vector including the gene encoding green fluorescent protein (GFP) was subjected to polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using the modified nucleotide N6-(6-Amino)hexyl-2′-deoxyadenosine-5′-triphosphate. Hence, free amino groups were introduced onto the linearized plasmid. Covalent bonding between the amino-modified plasmid DNA and the carboxylated MWCNTs was achieved via EDC chemistry. The resulting bioconjugate was successfully transformed into chemically competent Escherichia coli cells, without necessity of a heat-shock step at 42°C. The presence of Ca2+ in transformation medium was required to neutralize the electrostatic repulsion between DNA and negatively charged outer layer of E. coli. The transformants, which were able to express GFP were inspected manually on ampicillin agar plates. Our study represents a novelty with respect to other noncovalent CNT gene delivery systems. Considering the interest for delivery of linear DNA fragments, our study could give insights into further studies. © 2013 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 30:224–232, 2014