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Probe Intracellular Trafficking of a Polymeric DNA Delivery Vehicle by Functionalization with an Aggregation-Induced Emissive Tetraphenylethene Derivative

Han, Xiongqi, Chen, Qixian, Lu, Hongguang, Ma, Jianbiao, Gao, Hui
ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 2015 v.7 no.51 pp. 28494-28501
DNA, energy transfer, fluorescent dyes, genes, hydrophobicity, nanomedicine, physiological transport, polymers, transfection
Characteristic aggregation-induced quenching of π-fluorophores imposed substantial hindrance to their utilization in nanomedicine for insight into microscopic intracellular trafficking of therapeutic payload. To address this obstacle, we attempted to introduce a novel aggregation-induced emission (AIE) fluorophore into the cationic polymer, which was further used for formulation of a gene delivery carrier. Note that the selective restriction of the intramolecular rotation of the AIE fluorophore through its covalent bond to the polymer conduced to immense AIE. Furthermore, DNA payload labeled with the appropriate fluorophore as the Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) acceptor verified a facile strategy to trace intracellular DNA releasing activity relying on the distance limitation requested by FRET (AIE fluorophore as FRET donor). Moreover, the hydrophobic nature of the AIE fluorophore appeared to promote colloidal stability of the constructed formulation. Together with other chemistry functionalization strategies (including endosome escape), the ultimate formulation exerted dramatic gene transfection efficiency. Hence, this report manifested a first nanomedicine platform combining AIE and FRET for microscopic insight into DNA intracellular trafficking activity.