Self-assembled nanofibrils from RGD-functionalized cellulose nanocrystals to improve the performance of PEI/DNA polyplexes

Sry D. Hujaya, Aki Manninen, Kirsten Inga Kling, Jakob Birkedal Wagner, Seppo J. Vainio, Henrikki Liimatainen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) are promising bio-derived nanomaterials for the bottom-up fabrication of biomedical constructs. In this report, dicarboxylic acid-functionalized CNC (DCC) was functionalized with arginylglycylaspartic acid (RGD) tripeptide as a motif for improved cell adhesion and targeting. The product (DCC-RGD) self-assembled into a more elongated nanofibrillar structure through lateral and end-to-end association. When added into poly(ethylene imine) (PEI)/pDNA polyplex solution, nanocelluloses interacted electrostatically with positively charged polyplexes without affecting their integrity. The constructs were tested for their potentials as non-viral transfection reagents. Cell viability and transfection efficiency of fibroblast NIH3T3 cells were monitored as a function of CNC concentration where, in general, viability increased as the CNC concentration increased, and transfection efficiency could be optimized. Using wild-type MDCK and αV-knockout MDCK cells, the construct was able to provide targeted uptake of polyplexes. The findings have potential applications, for example, cell-selective in vitro or ex vivo transfection of autologous mesenchymal stem cells for cell therapy, or bottom-up design of future innovative biomaterials.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Colloid and Interface Science
Pages (from-to)71-82
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Cellulose nanocrystals
  • Gene therapy
  • Poly(ethylene imine)
  • RGD
  • Targeting
  • Transfection


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