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Small interfering RNA (siRNA) therapy is a promising approach for treatment of a wide range of cancers, including breast cancers that display variable phenotypic features. To explore the general utility of siRNA therapy to control aberrant expression of genes in breast cancer, we conducted a detailed analysis of siRNA delivery and silencing response in vitro in 6 separate breast cancer cell models (MDA-MB-231, MDA-MB-231-KRas-CRM, MCF-7, AU565, MDA-MB-435 and MDA-MB-468 cells). Using lipopolymers for siRNA complexation and delivery, we found a large variation in siRNA delivery efficiency depending on the specific lipopolymer used for siRNA complexation and delivery. Some lipopolymers were effective in all cell types used in this study, indicating the possibility of universal carriers for siRNA therapy. The delivery efficiency for effective lipopolymers was not correlated with dextran uptake in the cells tested, which indicated a receptor-mediated internalization for siRNA complexes with lipopolymers, unlike fluid-phase transfer associated with dextran uptake. Consistent with this, specific inhibitors involved in clathrin- and caveolin-mediated endocytosis significantly (>50%) reduced the internalization of siRNA complexes in all cell types. Using JAK2 and STAT3 silencing in MDA-MB-231 and MDA-MB-468 cells, a general correlation between the uptake and silencing efficiency at the mRNA level was evident, but it appeared that the choice of the target rather than the cell type was more critical for consistent silencing. We conclude that siRNA therapy with lipopolymers can be undertaken in multiple breast cancer cell phenotypes with similar efficiency, indicating the general applicability of non-viral RNAi in clinical management of molecularly heterogeneous breast cancers.

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The manuscript investigated the efficacy of siRNA carriers across multiple breast cancer cell lines. The lipopolymeric carriers were capable of delivering effective dose of siRNA to a range of breast cancer cells. Despite some differences in uptake efficiency among cell types, the mechanism of delivery was similar, with CME and CvME significantly involved in the internalization of polyplexes, while fluid-phase endocytosis was not significant. Specific target silencing was correlated to delivery efficiency, but we did notice the presence of lipopolymers that achieved high silencing with minimal siRNA delivery. Silencing specific targets in different cell types were more uniformly achieved as compared to targeting different targets in the same cells. Our studies enhance the feasibility of delivering siRNA to different types of breast cancer cells.


NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Acta Biomaterialia. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Acta Biomaterialia, volume 102, in 2020.

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