Synthesis, characterization, and evaluation as transfection reagents of ampholytic star copolymers: Effect of star architecture
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Five star polymers based on the positively ionizable hydrophilic 2-(dimethylamino)ethyl methacrylate (DMAEMA) and the hydrophobic but hydrolyzable tetrahydropyranyl methacrylate (THPMA) were prepared by group-transfer polymerization (GTP) using ethylene glycol dimethacrylate (EGDMA) as the coupling agent. In particular, four isomeric star copolymers (one heteroarm, two star block, and the statistical star), all with a 3:1 DMAEMA: THPMA molar ratio, plus one star homopolymer of DMAEMA, with degrees of polymerization of the arms equal to 15, were synthesized. After star polymer preparation and preliminary characterization, the THPMA units were hydrolyzed to negatively ionizable hydrophilic methacrylic acid (MAA) untis, thus yielding star polyampholytes. All the star polyampholytes as well as the commercially available transfection reagent SuperFect were evaluated for their ability to transfect human cervical HeLa cancer cells with the modified plasmid pRLSV40 bearing the enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) as the reporter gene. The transfection efficiency was affected by star architecture. The DMAEMA15-star-MAA5 polyampholyte presented the highest transfection efficiency of all the star polymers tested but lower than that of SuperFect at its optimum conditions. All four star copolymers showed decreased toxicity compared to the DMAEMA star homopolymer for the same amounts of star polymer tested and also compared to the SuperFect at its optimum conditions. © 2006 American Chemical Society.
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