(676g) Engineered Green Fluorescent Proteins: Cartilage-Targeted Delivery Nanocarriers That Provide Insights on the Effects of Charge on Transport into Dense Charged Tissues
We have characterized the precise effect of carrier charge on delivery efficacy into cartilage in isolation of other factors such as size and shape that can influence transport. While higher cationic charge leads to enhanced transport due to higher Donnan partitioning at the cartilage-synovial fluid interface, subsequent electrostatic binding interactions between the nanocarrier and cartilage matrix can slow transport. We studied the use of supercharged green fluorescent proteins (S-GFPs) engineered to have net charge ranging from +9 to +36 at physiological pH while having nearly identical sizes and shapes. As controls, we used three engineered GFP variants having net neutral charge but different surface charge distributions. All the S-GFPs had higher quantitative cartilage uptake compared to the controls. Amongst the S-GFPs, the lower charged variants (net charge +9 and +15) had significantly higher net uptake and penetration into cartilage compared to higher charged variants (net charge +25 and +36). These trends were observed both in bovine cartilage and in human cartilage obtained from two donors with no or early osteoarthritic cartilage. Two of the three neutral variants did not show preferential uptake into cartilage while the third variant had an uptake ratio (defined as the ratio of concentration inside the tissue to the final bath concentration) that was an order of magnitude higher than the other two. This demonstrated that, in addition to net cationic charge, surface charge distribution also plays a very important role in carrier transport in cartilage. Cellular uptake of S-GFPs into cartilage cells increased monotonically with higher cationic charge, which was the opposite of the trends observed in tissue-level uptake and penetration experiments. Based on these results, +9 GFP was found to be the optimal delivery carrier for drugs with ECM or cell surface receptor targets. For drugs with intracellular targets, a variant with intermediate charge, such as the +15 GFP, would provide a better balance between tissue penetration and cellular uptake.