Efficient nucleic acid delivery to murine regulatory T cells by gold nanoparticle conjugates

Immune responses have to be tightly controlled to guarantee maintenance of immunological tolerance and efficient clearance of pathogens and tumorigenic cells without induction of unspecific side effects. CD4+ CD25+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) play an important role in these processes due to their immunosuppressive function. Genetic modification of Tregs would be helpful to understand which molecules and pathways are involved in their function, but currently available methods are limited by time, costs or efficacy. Here, we made use of biofunctionalized gold nanoparticles as non-viral carriers to transport genetic information into murine Tregs. Confocal microscopy and transmission electron microscopy revealed an efficient uptake of the bioconjugates by Tregs. Most importantly, coupling eGFP-siRNA to those particles resulted in a dose and time dependent reduction of up to 50% of eGFP expression in Tregs isolated from Foxp3eGFP reporter mice. Thus, gold particles represent a suitable carrier for efficient import of nucleic acids into murine CD4+ CD25+ Tregs, superior to electroporation.


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