Publications by authors named "Talar Tokatlian"

24 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Targeting HIV Env immunogens to B cell follicles in nonhuman primates through immune complex or protein nanoparticle formulations.

NPJ Vaccines 2020 Aug 5;5(1):72. Epub 2020 Aug 5.

Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, 02139, USA.

Following immunization, high-affinity antibody responses develop within germinal centers (GCs), specialized sites within follicles of the lymph node (LN) where B cells proliferate and undergo somatic hypermutation. Antigen availability within GCs is important, as B cells must acquire and present antigen to follicular helper T cells to drive this process. However, recombinant protein immunogens such as soluble human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) envelope (Env) trimers do not efficiently accumulate in follicles following traditional immunization. Here, we demonstrate two strategies to concentrate HIV Env immunogens in follicles, via the formation of immune complexes (ICs) or by employing self-assembling protein nanoparticles for multivalent display of Env antigens. Using rhesus macaques, we show that within a few days following immunization, free trimers were present in a diffuse pattern in draining LNs, while trimer ICs and Env nanoparticles accumulated in B cell follicles. Whole LN imaging strikingly revealed that ICs and trimer nanoparticles concentrated in as many as 500 follicles in a single LN within two days after immunization. Imaging of LNs collected seven days postimmunization showed that Env nanoparticles persisted on follicular dendritic cells in the light zone of nascent GCs. These findings suggest that the form of antigen administered in vaccination can dramatically impact localization in lymphoid tissues and provides a new rationale for the enhanced immune responses observed following immunization with ICs or nanoparticles.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41541-020-00223-1DOI Listing
August 2020

Engineered T cells directed at tumors with defined allelic loss.

Mol Immunol 2020 12 1;128:298-310. Epub 2020 Oct 1.

A2 Biotherapeutics, 30301 Agoura Road, Agoura Hills, CA, 91301, USA. Electronic address:

We describe an approach to cancer therapy based on exploitation of common losses of genetic material in tumor cells (loss of heterozygosity) (Basilion et al., 1999; Beroukhim et al., 2010). This therapeutic concept addresses the fundamental problem of discrimination between tumor and normal cells and can be applied in principle to the large majority of tumors. It utilizes modular activator/blocker elements that integrate signals related to the presence and absence of ligands displayed on the cell surface (Fedorov et al., 2013). We show that the targeting system works robustly in vitro and in a mouse cancer model where absence of the HLA-A*02 allele releases a brake on engineered T cells activated by the CD19 surface antigen. This therapeutic approach potentially opens a route toward a large, new source of cancer targets.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.molimm.2020.09.012DOI Listing
December 2020

Targeting HIV Env immunogens to B cell follicles in nonhuman primates through immune complex or protein nanoparticle formulations.

NPJ Vaccines 2020 5;5:72. Epub 2020 Aug 5.

Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139 USA.

Following immunization, high-affinity antibody responses develop within germinal centers (GCs), specialized sites within follicles of the lymph node (LN) where B cells proliferate and undergo somatic hypermutation. Antigen availability within GCs is important, as B cells must acquire and present antigen to follicular helper T cells to drive this process. However, recombinant protein immunogens such as soluble human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) envelope (Env) trimers do not efficiently accumulate in follicles following traditional immunization. Here, we demonstrate two strategies to concentrate HIV Env immunogens in follicles, via the formation of immune complexes (ICs) or by employing self-assembling protein nanoparticles for multivalent display of Env antigens. Using rhesus macaques, we show that within a few days following immunization, free trimers were present in a diffuse pattern in draining LNs, while trimer ICs and Env nanoparticles accumulated in B cell follicles. Whole LN imaging strikingly revealed that ICs and trimer nanoparticles concentrated in as many as 500 follicles in a single LN within two days after immunization. Imaging of LNs collected seven days postimmunization showed that Env nanoparticles persisted on follicular dendritic cells in the light zone of nascent GCs. These findings suggest that the form of antigen administered in vaccination can dramatically impact localization in lymphoid tissues and provides a new rationale for the enhanced immune responses observed following immunization with ICs or nanoparticles.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41541-020-00223-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7406516PMC
August 2020

Structure-function relationships of chimeric antigen receptors in acute T cell responses to antigen.

Mol Immunol 2020 10 5;126:56-64. Epub 2020 Aug 5.

A2 Biotherapeutics, 30301 Agoura Rd., Agoura Hills, CA, 91301, United States. Electronic address:

Chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) and their parent signaling molecule, the T cell receptor (TCR), are fascinating proteins of increasing relevance to disease therapy. Here we use a collection of 1221 pMHC-directed CAR constructs representing 10 pMHC targets to study aspects of CAR structure-activity relationships (SAR), with particular focus on the extracellular and transmembrane structural components. These experiments that involve pMHC targets whose number/cell can be manipulated by peptide dosing in vitro enable systematic analysis of the SAR of CARs in carefully controlled experimental situations (Harris and Kranz, 2016). We find that CARs tolerate a wide range of structural variation, with the ligand-binding domains (LBDs) dominating the SAR of CAR antigen sensitivity. Notwithstanding the critical role of the LBD, CAR antigen-binding on the cell surface, measured by pMHC tetramer staining, is not an effective predictor of functional sensitivity. These results have important implications for the design and testing of CARs aimed toward the clinic.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.molimm.2020.07.020DOI Listing
October 2020

Cancer Cell Coating Nanoparticles for Optimal Tumor-Specific Cytokine Delivery.

ACS Nano 2020 09 5;14(9):11238-11253. Epub 2020 Sep 5.

Department of Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 183 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142, United States.

Although cytokine therapy is an attractive strategy to build a more robust immune response in tumors, cytokines have faced clinical failures due to toxicity. In particular, interleukin-12 has shown great clinical promise but was limited in translation because of systemic toxicity. In this study, we demonstrate an enhanced ability to reduce toxicity without affecting the efficacy of IL-12 therapy. We engineer the material properties of a NP to meet the enhanced demands for optimal cytokine delivery by using the layer-by-layer (LbL) approach. Importantly, using LbL, we demonstrate cell-level trafficking of NPs to preferentially localize to the cell's outer surface and act as a drug depot, which is required for optimal payload activity on neighboring cytokine membrane receptors. LbL-NPs showed efficacy against a tumor challenge in both colorectal and ovarian tumors at doses that were not tolerated when administered carrier-free.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsnano.0c03109DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7530125PMC
September 2020

Slow Delivery Immunization Enhances HIV Neutralizing Antibody and Germinal Center Responses via Modulation of Immunodominance.

Cell 2019 05 9;177(5):1153-1171.e28. Epub 2019 May 9.

Division of Vaccine Discovery, La Jolla Institute for Immunology (LJI), La Jolla, CA 92037, USA; Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology and Immunogen Discovery (Scripps CHAVI-ID), The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA; Department of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA. Electronic address:

Conventional immunization strategies will likely be insufficient for the development of a broadly neutralizing antibody (bnAb) vaccine for HIV or other difficult pathogens because of the immunological hurdles posed, including B cell immunodominance and germinal center (GC) quantity and quality. We found that two independent methods of slow delivery immunization of rhesus monkeys (RMs) resulted in more robust T follicular helper (T) cell responses and GC B cells with improved Env-binding, tracked by longitudinal fine needle aspirates. Improved GCs correlated with the development of >20-fold higher titers of autologous nAbs. Using a new RM genomic immunoglobulin locus reference, we identified differential IgV gene use between immunization modalities. Ab mapping demonstrated targeting of immunodominant non-neutralizing epitopes by conventional bolus-immunized animals, whereas slow delivery-immunized animals targeted a more diverse set of epitopes. Thus, alternative immunization strategies can enhance nAb development by altering GCs and modulating the immunodominance of non-neutralizing epitopes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2019.04.012DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6619430PMC
May 2019

Innate immune recognition of glycans targets HIV nanoparticle immunogens to germinal centers.

Science 2019 02 20;363(6427):649-654. Epub 2018 Dec 20.

Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.

In vaccine design, antigens are often arrayed in a multivalent nanoparticle form, but in vivo mechanisms underlying the enhanced immunity elicited by such vaccines remain poorly understood. We compared the fates of two different heavily glycosylated HIV antigens, a gp120-derived mini-protein and a large, stabilized envelope trimer, in protein nanoparticle or "free" forms after primary immunization. Unlike monomeric antigens, nanoparticles were rapidly shuttled to the follicular dendritic cell (FDC) network and then concentrated in germinal centers in a complement-, mannose-binding lectin (MBL)-, and immunogen glycan-dependent manner. Loss of FDC localization in MBL-deficient mice or via immunogen deglycosylation significantly affected antibody responses. These findings identify an innate immune-mediated recognition pathway promoting antibody responses to particulate antigens, with broad implications for humoral immunity and vaccine design.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aat9120DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6420719PMC
February 2019

Vaccine-Induced Protection from Homologous Tier 2 SHIV Challenge in Nonhuman Primates Depends on Serum-Neutralizing Antibody Titers.

Immunity 2019 01 11;50(1):241-252.e6. Epub 2018 Dec 11.

Department of Immunology and Microbiology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA; Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology and Immunogen Discovery (CHAVI-ID), The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA; IAVI Neutralizing Antibody Center and the Collaboration for AIDS Vaccine Discovery (CAVD), The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA; Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA. Electronic address:

Passive administration of HIV neutralizing antibodies (nAbs) can protect macaques from hard-to-neutralize (tier 2) chimeric simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) challenge. However, conditions for nAb-mediated protection after vaccination have not been established. Here, we selected groups of 6 rhesus macaques with either high or low serum nAb titers from a total of 78 animals immunized with recombinant native-like (SOSIP) Env trimers. Repeat intrarectal challenge with homologous tier 2 SHIV led to rapid infection in unimmunized and low-titer animals. High-titer animals, however, demonstrated protection that was gradually lost as nAb titers waned over time. An autologous serum ID nAb titer of ∼1:500 afforded more than 90% protection from medium-dose SHIV infection. In contrast, antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity and T cell activity did not correlate with protection. Therefore, Env protein-based vaccination strategies can protect against hard-to-neutralize SHIV challenge in rhesus macaques by inducing tier 2 nAbs, provided appropriate neutralizing titers can be reached and maintained.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.immuni.2018.11.011DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6335502PMC
January 2019

Enhancing Humoral Responses Against HIV Envelope Trimers via Nanoparticle Delivery with Stabilized Synthetic Liposomes.

Sci Rep 2018 11 8;8(1):16527. Epub 2018 Nov 8.

Koch Institute, MIT, Massachusetts, USA.

An HIV vaccine capable of eliciting durable neutralizing antibody responses continues to be an important unmet need. Multivalent nanoparticles displaying a high density of envelope trimers may be promising immunogen forms to elicit strong and durable humoral responses to HIV, but critical particle design criteria remain to be fully defined. To this end, we developed strategies to covalently anchor a stabilized gp140 trimer, BG505 MD39, on the surfaces of synthetic liposomes to study the effects of trimer density and vesicle stability on vaccine-elicited humoral responses in mice. CryoEM imaging revealed homogeneously distributed and oriented MD39 on the surface of liposomes irrespective of particle size, lipid composition, and conjugation strategy. Immunization with covalent MD39-coupled liposomes led to increased germinal center and antigen-specific T follicular helper cell responses and significantly higher avidity serum MD39-specific IgG responses compared to immunization with soluble MD39 trimers. A priming immunization with liposomal-MD39 was important for elicitation of high avidity antibody responses, regardless of whether booster immunizations were administered with either soluble or particulate trimers. The stability of trimer anchoring to liposomes was critical for these effects, as germinal center and output antibody responses were further increased by liposome compositions incorporating sphingomyelin that exhibited high in vitro stability in the presence of serum. Together these data highlight key liposome design features for optimizing humoral immunity to lipid nanoparticle immunogens.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-34853-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6224390PMC
November 2018

Elicitation of Robust Tier 2 Neutralizing Antibody Responses in Nonhuman Primates by HIV Envelope Trimer Immunization Using Optimized Approaches.

Immunity 2017 06;46(6):1073-1088.e6

Department of Immunology and Microbiology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA; Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology and Immunogen Discovery, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA; IAVI Neutralizing Antibody Center and the Collaboration for AIDS Vaccine Discovery, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA; Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA. Electronic address:

The development of stabilized recombinant HIV envelope trimers that mimic the virion surface molecule has increased enthusiasm for a neutralizing antibody (nAb)-based HIV vaccine. However, there is limited experience with recombinant trimers as immunogens in nonhuman primates, which are typically used as a model for humans. Here, we tested multiple immunogens and immunization strategies head-to-head to determine their impact on the quantity, quality, and kinetics of autologous tier 2 nAb development. A bilateral, adjuvanted, subcutaneous immunization protocol induced reproducible tier 2 nAb responses after only two immunizations 8 weeks apart, and these were further enhanced by a third immunization with BG505 SOSIP trimer. We identified immunogens that minimized non-neutralizing V3 responses and demonstrated that continuous immunogen delivery could enhance nAb responses. nAb responses were strongly associated with germinal center reactions, as assessed by lymph node fine needle aspiration. This study provides a framework for preclinical and clinical vaccine studies targeting nAb elicitation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.immuni.2017.05.007DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5483234PMC
June 2017

HIV Vaccine Design to Target Germline Precursors of Glycan-Dependent Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies.

Immunity 2016 09 8;45(3):483-496. Epub 2016 Sep 8.

Department of Immunology and Microbial Science, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA; IAVI Neutralizing Antibody Center, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA; Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology and Immunogen Discovery, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA; The Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA. Electronic address:

Broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) against the N332 supersite of the HIV envelope (Env) trimer are the most common bnAbs induced during infection, making them promising leads for vaccine design. Wild-type Env glycoproteins lack detectable affinity for supersite-bnAb germline precursors and are therefore unsuitable immunogens to prime supersite-bnAb responses. We employed mammalian cell surface display to design stabilized Env trimers with affinity for germline-reverted precursors of PGT121-class supersite bnAbs. The trimers maintained native-like antigenicity and structure, activated PGT121 inferred-germline B cells ex vivo when multimerized on liposomes, and primed PGT121-like responses in PGT121 inferred-germline knockin mice. Design intermediates have levels of epitope modification between wild-type and germline-targeting trimers; their mutation gradient suggests sequential immunization to induce bnAbs, in which the germline-targeting prime is followed by progressively less-mutated design intermediates and, lastly, with native trimers. The vaccine design strategies described could be utilized to target other epitopes on HIV or other pathogens.
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5040827PMC
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.immuni.2016.08.016DOI Listing
September 2016

Synthetic Nanoparticles for Vaccines and Immunotherapy.

Chem Rev 2015 Oct 8;115(19):11109-46. Epub 2015 Jul 8.

The Ragon Institute of MGH, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University , 400 Technology Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, United States.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.chemrev.5b00109DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4688911PMC
October 2015

Porous hyaluronic acid hydrogels for localized nonviral DNA delivery in a diabetic wound healing model.

Adv Healthc Mater 2015 May 18;4(7):1084-91. Epub 2015 Feb 18.

Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles, 5531 Boelter Hall, 420 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA, 90095-1592, USA.

The treatment of impaired wounds requires the use of biomaterials that can provide mechanical and biological queues to the surrounding environment to promote angiogenesis, granulation tissue formation, and wound closure. Porous hydrogels show promotion of angiogenesis, even in the absence of proangiogenic factors. It is hypothesized that the added delivery of nonviral DNA encoding for proangiogenic growth factors can further enhance this effect. Here, 100 and 60 μm porous and nonporous (n-pore) hyaluronic acid-MMP hydrogels with encapsulated reporter (pGFPluc) or proangiogenic (pVEGF) plasmids are used to investigate scaffold-mediated gene delivery for local gene therapy in a diabetic wound healing mouse model. Porous hydrogels allow for significantly faster wound closure compared with n-pore hydrogels, which do not degrade and essentially provide a mechanical barrier to closure. Interestingly, the delivery of pDNA/PEI polyplexes positively promotes granulation tissue formation even when the DNA does not encode for an angiogenic protein. And although transfected cells are present throughout the granulation tissue surrounding, all hydrogels at 2 weeks, pVEGF delivery does not further enhance the angiogenic response. Despite this, the presence of transfected cells shows promise for the use of polyplex-loaded porous hydrogels for local gene delivery in the treatment of diabetic wounds.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/adhm.201400783DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4433401PMC
May 2015

Gold-nanocrystal-enhanced bioluminescent nanocapsules.

ACS Nano 2014 Oct 13;8(10):9964-9. Epub 2014 Oct 13.

Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of California at Los Angeles , Los Angeles, California 90095, United States.

Metal-enhanced bioluminescence presents a great opportunity to achieve ultrasensitive analysis and imaging with low bioluminescent background and enhanced luminescence. We hereby report metal-enhanced bioluminescence based on bioluminescent protein nanocapsules conjugated with gold nanocrystals. Such gold-nanocapsule complexes exhibit near 10-fold enhancement in bioluminescent intensity and are effectively delivered into the cells with outstanding stability. This work offers a class of bioluminescent nanoparticles for imaging and other applications.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/nn504371hDOI Listing
October 2014

Non-viral DNA delivery from porous hyaluronic acid hydrogels in mice.

Biomaterials 2014 Jan;35(2):825-35

The lack of vascularization within tissue-engineered constructs remains the primary cause of construct failure following implantation. Porous constructs have been successful in allowing for vessel infiltration without requiring extensive matrix degradation. We hypothesized that the rate and maturity of infiltrating vessels could be enhanced by complementing the open pore structure with the added delivery of DNA encoding for angiogenic growth factors. Both 100 and 60 μm porous and non-porous hyaluronic acid hydrogels loaded with pro-angiogenic (pVEGF) or reporter (pGFPluc) plasmid nanoparticles were used to study the effects of pore size and DNA delivery on angiogenesis in a mouse subcutaneous implant model. GFP-expressing transfected cells were found inside all control hydrogels over the course of the study, although transfection levels peaked by week 3 for 100 and 60 μm porous hydrogels. Transfection in non-porous hydrogels continued to increase over time corresponding with continued surface degradation. pVEGF transfection levels were not high enough to enhance angiogenesis by increasing vessel density, maturity, or size, although by 6 weeks for all pore size hydrogels more hydrogel implants were positive for vascularization when pVEGF polyplexes were incorporated compared to control hydrogels. Pore size was found to be the dominant factor in determining the angiogenic response with 60 μm porous hydrogels having more vessels/area present than 100 μm porous hydrogels at the initial onset of angiogenesis at 3 weeks. The results of this study show promise for the use of polyplex loaded porous hydrogels to transfect infiltrating cells in vivo and guide tissue regeneration and repair.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biomaterials.2013.10.014DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3941464PMC
January 2014

Design and characterization of microporous hyaluronic acid hydrogels for in vitro gene transfer to mMSCs.

Acta Biomater 2012 Nov 20;8(11):3921-31. Epub 2012 Jul 20.

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.

The effective and sustained delivery of DNA locally could increase the applicability of gene therapy in tissue regeneration and therapeutic angiogenesis. One promising approach is to use porous hydrogel scaffolds to encapsulate and deliver nucleotides in the form of nanoparticles to the affected sites. We have designed and characterized microporous (μ-pore) hyaluronic acid hydrogels which allow for effective cell seeding in vitro post-scaffold fabrication and allow for cell spreading and proliferation without requiring high levels of degradation. These factors, coupled with high loading efficiency of DNA polyplexes using a previously developed caged nanoparticle encapsulation (CnE) technique, then allowed for long-term sustained transfection and transgene expression of incorporated mMSCs. In this study, we examined the effect of pore size on gene transfer efficiency and the kinetics of transgene expression. For all investigated pore sizes (30, 60, and 100 μm), encapsulated DNA polyplexes were released steadily, starting by day 4 for up to 10 days. Likewise, transgene expression was sustained over this period, although significant differences between different pore sizes were not observed. Cell viability was also shown to remain high over time, even in the presence of high concentrations of DNA polyplexes. The knowledge acquired through this in vitro model can be utilized to design and better predict scaffold-mediated gene delivery for local gene therapy in an in vivo model where host cells infiltrate the scaffold over time.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.actbio.2012.07.014DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3678541PMC
November 2012

Physically associated synthetic hydrogels with long-term covalent stabilization for cell culture and stem cell transplantation.

Adv Mater 2011 Nov 14;23(43):5098-103. Epub 2011 Oct 14.

Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles, 420 Westwood Plaza, 5531 Boelter Hall, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/adma.201103349DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3242734PMC
November 2011

Utilizing cell-matrix interactions to modulate gene transfer to stem cells inside hyaluronic acid hydrogels.

Mol Pharm 2011 Oct 24;8(5):1582-91. Epub 2011 Aug 24.

Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095, United States.

The effective delivery of DNA locally would increase the applicability of gene therapy in tissue regeneration, where diseased tissue is to be repaired in situ. One promising approach is to use hydrogel scaffolds to encapsulate and deliver plasmid DNA in the form of nanoparticles to the diseased tissue, so that cells infiltrating the scaffold are transfected to induce regeneration. This study focuses on the design of a DNA nanoparticle-loaded hydrogel scaffold. In particular, this study focuses on understanding how cell-matrix interactions affect gene transfer to adult stem cells cultured inside matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) degradable hyaluronic acid (HA) hydrogel scaffolds. HA was cross-linked to form a hydrogel material using a MMP degradable peptide and Michael addition chemistry. Gene transfer inside these hydrogel materials was assessed as a function of polyplex nitrogen to phosphate ratio (N/P = 5 to 12), matrix stiffness (100-1700 Pa), RGD (Arg-Gly-Asp) concentration (10-400 μM), and RGD presentation (0.2-4.7 RGDs per HA molecule). All variables were found to affect gene transfer to mouse mensenchymal stem cells culture inside the DNA loaded hydrogels. As expected, higher N/P ratios lead to higher gene transfer efficiency but also higher toxicity; softer hydrogels resulted in higher transgene expression than stiffer hydrogels, and an intermediate RGD concentration and RGD clustering resulted in higher transgene expression. We believe that the knowledge gained through this in vitro model can be utilized to design better scaffold-mediated gene delivery for local gene therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/mp200171dDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4104282PMC
October 2011

Protease degradable tethers for controlled and cell-mediated release of nanoparticles in 2- and 3-dimensions.

Biomaterials 2010 Nov 4;31(31):8072-80. Epub 2010 Aug 4.

Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1592, USA.

Strategies to control the release rate of bioactive signals from tissue engineering scaffolds are essential for tissue regeneration and tissue engineering applications. Here we report on a strategy to achieve temporal control over nanoparticle release from biomaterials using cell-secreted proteases. This cell-triggered release approach utilizes peptides that are degraded by matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) at different rates to immobilize nanoparticles directly to the biomaterial surface. Thus, the peptide-immobilized nanoparticles are released with temporal control through the action of cell-released MMPs. We found that release rates of peptide-immobilized nanoparticles were a function of peptide sensitivity to proteases, the number of tethers between the nanoparticle and the surface and the concentration of proteases used to induce release. Cellular internalization of the peptide-immobilized nanoparticles was also a function of the peptide sensitivity to proteases, the number of tethers between the nanoparticle and the surface and MMP expression profile of the cells. Similar trends were observed for peptide-immobilized nanoparticles inside micro-porous hydrogels, indicating protease sensitive tethers are effective in controlling release rate and internalization of nanoparticles. Such a temporal delivery strategy of nanoparticles loaded with therapeutic payloads (e.g. protein, DNA, siRNA) can be an ideal means to guide tissue formation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biomaterials.2010.07.030DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2945696PMC
November 2010

siRNA applications in nanomedicine.

Wiley Interdiscip Rev Nanomed Nanobiotechnol 2010 May-Jun;2(3):305-15

University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.

The ability to specifically silence genes using RNA interference (RNAi) has wide therapeutic applications for the treatment of disease or the augmentation of tissue formation. RNAi is the sequence-specific gene silencing mediated by a 21-25 nucleotide double-stranded small interfering RNA (siRNA) molecule. siRNAs are incorporated into the RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC), which mediates mRNA sequence-specific binding and cleavage. Although RNAi has the potential to be a powerful therapeutic drug, its delivery remains a major limitation. The generation of nanosized particles is being investigated to enhance the delivery of siRNA-based drugs. These nanoparticles are generally designed to overcome one or more of the barriers encountered by the siRNA when trafficked to the cytosol. In this review, we will discuss recent advances in the design of delivery strategies for siRNA, focusing our attention to those strategies that have had in vivo success or have introduced novel functionality that allowed enhanced intracellular trafficking and/or cellular targeting. First, we will discuss the different barriers that must be overcome for efficient siRNA delivery. Second, we will discuss the approaches for siRNA delivery by size including direct modification of siRNAs (less than 10 nm), self-assembled particles based on cationic polymers and cationic lipids (100-300 nm), neutral liposomes (<200 nm), and macroscale matrices that contain naked siRNA or siRNA loaded nanoparticles (>100 microm). Finally, we will briefly discuss recent in vivo therapeutic success.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/wnan.81DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4104279PMC
July 2010

Redirecting the inactivation pathway of penicillin amidase and increasing amoxicillin production via a thermophilic molecular chaperone.

Biotechnol Bioeng 2009 Feb;102(2):417-24

Department of Chemical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720, USA.

We have previously shown that a single-subunit thermosome from Methanocaldococcus jannaschii (rTHS) can stabilize enzymes in semi-aqueous media (Bergeron et al., 2008b). In the present study, rTHS was used to stabilize penicillin amidase (PGA) in methanol-water mixtures. Including methanol in the reaction medium for amoxicillin synthesis can suppress unwanted hydrolysis reactions but inactivate PGA. Inactivation and reactivation pathways proposed for PGA illustrate the predictability of enzyme stabilization by rTHS in co-solvents. Calcium was necessary for reversible dissociation of the two PGA subunits in methanol-water and the presence of calcium resulted in an enhancement of chaperone-assisted stabilization. rTHS also acted as a stabilizer in the enzymatic synthesis of the beta-lactam antibiotic amoxicillin. rTHS stabilized PGA, increasing its half-life in 35% methanol by fivefold at 37 degrees C. Stabilization by rTHS was enhanced but did not require the presence of ATP. Including rTHS in fed-batch reactions performed in methanol-water resulted in nearly 4 times more amoxicillin than when the reaction was run without rTHS, and over threefold higher selectivity towards amoxicillin synthesis compared to aqueous conditions without rTHS. The thermosome and other thermophilic chaperones may thus be generally useful for stabilizing enzymes in their soluble form and expanding the range of conditions suitable for biocatalysis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/bit.22142DOI Listing
February 2009

Chaperone function in organic co-solvents: experimental characterization and modeling of a hyperthermophilic chaperone subunit from Methanocaldococcus jannaschii.

Biochim Biophys Acta 2008 Feb 28;1784(2):368-78. Epub 2007 Nov 28.

Department of Chemical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.

Molecular chaperones play a central role in maintaining protein structure within a cell. Previously, we determined that the gene encoding a molecular chaperone, a thermosome, from the hyperthermophilic archaeon Methanocaldococcus jannaschii is upregulated upon lethal heat shock. We have recombinantly expressed this thermosome (rTHS) and show here that it is both stable and fully functional in aqueous solutions containing water-miscible organic co-solvents. Based on circular dichroism the secondary structure of rTHS was not affected by one-hour exposures to a variety of co-solvents including 30% v/v acetonitrile (ACN) and 50% methanol (MeOH). By contrast, the secondary structure of a mesophilic homologue, GroEL/GroES (GroE), was substantially disrupted. rTHS reduced the aggregation of ovalbumin and citrate synthase in 30% ACN, assisted refolding of citrate synthase upon solvent-inactivation, and stabilized citrate synthase and glutamate dehydrogenase in the direct presence of co-solvents. Apparent total turnover numbers of these enzymes in denaturing solutions increased by up to 2.5-fold in the presence of rTHS. Mechanistic models are proposed to help ascertain specific conditions that could enhance or limit organic solvent-induced chaperone activity. These models suggest that thermodynamic stability and the reversibility of enzyme unfolding play key roles in the effectiveness of enzyme recovery by rTHS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbapap.2007.11.011DOI Listing
February 2008