Low active loading of cargo into engineered extracellular vesicles results in inefficient miRNA mimic delivery.

Sutaria DS, Jiang J, Elgamal OA, Pomeroy SM, Badawi M, Zhu X, Pavlovicz R, Azevedo-Pouly ACP, Chalmers J, Li C, Phelps MA, Schmittgen TD
J Extracell Vesicles 6 1333882 01/01/2017


Extracellular vesicles (EVs) hold great potential as novel systems for nucleic acid delivery due to their natural composition. Our goal was to load EVs with microRNA that are synthesized by the cells that produce the EVs. HEK293T cells were engineered to produce EVs expressing a lysosomal associated membrane, Lamp2a fusion protein. The gene encoding pre-miR-199a was inserted into an artificial intron of the Lamp2a fusion protein. The TAT peptide/HIV-1 transactivation response (TAR) RNA interacting peptide was exploited to enhance the EV loading of the pre-miR-199a containing a modified TAR RNA loop. Computational modeling demonstrated a stable interaction between the modified pre-miR-199a loop and TAT peptide. EMSA gel shift, recombinant Dicer processing and luciferase binding assays confirmed the binding, processing and functionality of the modified pre-miR-199a. The TAT-TAR interaction enhanced the loading of the miR-199a into EVs by 65-fold. Endogenously loaded EVs were ineffective at delivering active miR-199a-3p therapeutic to recipient SK-Hep1 cells. While the low degree of miRNA loading into EVs through this approach resulted in inefficient distribution of RNA cargo into recipient cells, the TAT TAR strategy to load miRNA into EVs may be valuable in other drug delivery approaches involving miRNA mimics or other hairpin containing RNAs.

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