Demoulins T., Milona P., Englezou P. C., Ebensen T., Schulze K., Suter R., Pichon C., Midoux P., Guzman C. A., Ruggli N. and McCullough K. C.
Nanomedicine-Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine (2016) 12 (3) 711-722 - doi : 10.1016/j.nano.2015.11.001
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Self-amplifying replicon RNA (RepRNA) are large molecules (12-14kb) ; their self-replication amplifies mRNA template numbers, affording several rounds of antigen production, effectively increasing vaccine antigen payloads. Their sensitivity to RNase-sensitivity and inefficient uptake by dendritic cells (DCs) - absolute requirements for vaccine design - were tackled by condensing RepRNA into synthetic, nanoparticulate, polyethylenimine (PEI)-polyplex delivery vehicles. Polyplex-delivery formulations for small RNA molecules cannot be transferred to RepRNA due to its greater size and complexity ; the N:P charge ratio and impact of RepRNA folding would influence polyplex condensation, post-delivery decompaction and the cytosolic release essential for RepRNA translation. Polyplex-formulations proved successful for delivery of RepRNA encoding influenza virus hemagglutinin and nucleocapsid to DCs. Cytosolic translocation was facilitated, leading to RepRNA translation. This efficacy was confirmed in vivo, inducing both humoral and cellular immune responses. Accordingly, this paper describes the first PEI-polyplexes providing efficient delivery of the complex and large, self-amplifying RepRNA vaccines. FROM THE CLINICAL EDITOR : The use of self-amplifying replicon RNA (RepRNA) to increase vaccine antigen payloads can potentially be useful in effective vaccine design. Nonetheless, its use is limited by the degradation during the uptake process. Here, the authors attempted to solve this problem by packaging RepRNA using polyethylenimine (PEI)-polyplex delivery vehicles. The efficacy was confirmed in vivo by the appropriate humoral and cellular immune responses. This novel delivery method may prove to be very useful for future vaccine design.