The aims of the research work were to synthesize ethyl(cholesteryl carbamoyl)-l-arginate (ECCA), an arginine-conjugated cholesterol derivative, and to evaluate its application as a gene delivery vector. The interactions of ECCA with DNA duplex were studied using molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. It was found that the guanidine group of ECCA could interact with the phosphate group of DNA through ionic interactions as well as hydrogen bonds. The structure of DNA was stable throughout the simulation time. Liposomes were formulated using ECCA and soya phosphatidylcholine (SPC) by a thin-film hydration method. They had the particle size of ~ 150 nm and the zeta potential of + 51 mV. To ensure the efficient binding of DNA to the liposomes, the ratio of DNA to ECCA was optimized using gel retardation assay. Further, serum stability, haemolysis and cytotoxicity studies were carried out to determine the stability and safety of the lipoplexes. Circular dichroism spectroscopy was used to determine the interaction of DNA and cationic liposomes. Cellular uptake pathway was determined by studying the uptake of coumarin-loaded lipoplexes at 4 °C and in the presence of uptake inhibitors, i.e. genistein, chlorpromazine and methyl-β-cyclodextrin. Transfection studies were carried out to evaluate the transfection efficacy of the ECCA-loaded lipoplexes. The binding of DNA and lipoplexes was found to be stable in the presence of serum, and no degradation of DNA was observed. The lipoplexes showed low haemolysis and cytotoxicity. The uptake of coumarin-loaded liposomes was decreased up to ~ 20% in the presence of clathrin- and caveola-mediated uptake inhibitors, indicating a role of both the pathways in the uptake of the inhibitors. Satisfactory transfection efficiency was obtained compared to Lipofectamine®. Thus, cationic cholesterol derivative is a useful tool for gene delivery vector.
Cationic cholesterol derivative Non-viral vector Gene delivery Uptake pathway MD simulation