Delivery of DNA and siRNA by novel gemini-like amphiphilic peptides
We report the design, synthesis, and characterization of a novel type of cationic lipopeptide, gemini-like amphiphilic peptides or 'geminoids'. As an example, the SPKR peptide, inspired by biological nucleic acid binding motifs, was appended with unsaturated (oleoyl/oleyl) alkyl tails. The compound shows remarkable DNA and siRNA delivery, without lysogenic helper lipid, in a variety of cells, with a moderate cytotoxic effect. It aggregates to nanoparticles that combine with DNA to lipoplexes, which undergo a change from lamellar to the more lysogenic hexagonal packing upon lowering the pH. The versatility of the chemical approach allowed us to study peptides related to SPKR, and to establish that the Pro and at least one of the cationic (Lys, Arg) residues are essential for the biological activity.