Comparison and characterisation of ribozyme delivery in cultured glial and neuronal cells in vivo and in vitro
Ribozymes are short strands of RNA that possess a huge potential as biological tools for studying gene expression and as therapeutic agents to down-regulate undesirable gene expression. Successful application of ribozymes requires delivery to the target site in sufficient amounts for an adequate duration. However, due to their large size and polyanionic character ribozymes are not amenable to transport across biological membranes. In this study a chemically modified ribozyme with enhanced biological stability, targeted against the EGFR mRNA has been evaluated for cellular delivery to cultured glial and neuronal cells with a view to developing treatments for brain tumours. Cellular delivery of free ribozyme was characterised in cultured glial and neuronal cells from the human and rat. Delivery was very limited and time dependent with no consistent difference observed between glial and neuronal cells in both species. Cellular association was largely temperature and energy-dependent with a small component of non-energy dependent association. Further studies showed that ribozyme cellular association was inhibited with self and cross competition with nucleic and non-nucleic acid polyanions indicating the presence of cell surface ribozyme-binding molecules. Trypsin washing experiments further implied that the ribozyme binding surface molecules were protein by nature. Dependence of cellular association on pH indicated that interaction of ribozyme with cell surface molecules was based on ionic interactions. Fluoresence studies indicated that, post cell association, ribozymes were sequestered in sub-cellular vesicles. South-Western blots identified several cell surface proteins which bind to ribozymes and could facilitate cellular association. The limited cellular association observed with free ribozyme required the development and evaluation of polylactide-co-glycolide microspheres incorporating ribozyme for enhanced cellular delivery. Characterisation of microsphere mediated delivery of ribozyme in cultured glial and neuronal cells showed that association increased by 18 to 27-fold in all cell types with no differences observed between cell lines and species. Microsphere mediated delivery was temperature and energy dependent and independent of pH. In order to assess the potential of PLGA micro spheres for the CNS delivery of ribozyme the distribution of ribozyme entrapping microspheres was investigated in rat CNS after intracerebroventricular injection. Distribution studies demonstrated that after 24 hours there was no free ribozyme present in the brain parenchyma, however microsphere entrapped ribozyme was found in the CNS. Microspheres remained in the ventricular system after deposition and passed from the lateral ventricles to the third and fourth ventricle and in the subarachnoid space. Investigation of the influence of microsphere size on the distribution in CNS demonstrated that particles up to 2.5 and O.5f.lm remained in the ventricles around the choroid plexus and ependymal lining.