Layer-by-Layer Assembled Gold Nanoshells for the Intracellular Delivery of miR-34a

Ritu Goyal, Chintan H. Kapadia, Jilian R. Melamed, Rachel S. Riley, Emily S. Day

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Introduction: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short noncoding RNAs whose ability to regulate the expression of multiple genes makes them potentially exciting tools to treat disease. Unfortunately, miRNAs cannot passively enter cells due to their hydrophilicity and negative charge. Here, we report the development of layer-by-layer assembled nanoshells (LbL-NS) as vehicles for efficient intracellular miRNA delivery. Specifically, we developed LbL-NS to deliver the tumor suppressor miR-34a into triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) cells, and demonstrate that these constructs can safely and effectively regulate the expression of SIRT1 and Bcl-2, two known targets of miR-34a, to decrease cell proliferation. Methods: LbL-NS were made by coating negatively charged nanoshells with alternating layers of positive poly-l-lysine (PLL) and negative miRNA, with the outer layer consisting of PLL to facilitate cellular entry and protect the miRNA. Electron microscopy, spectrophotometry, dynamic light scattering, and miRNA release studies were used to characterize LbL-NS. The particles’ ability to enter MDA-MB-231 TNBC cells, inhibit SIRT1 and Bcl-2 expression, and thereby reduce cell proliferation was examined by confocal microscopy, Western blotting, and EdU assays, respectively. Results: Each successive coating reversed the nanoparticles’ charge and increased their hydrodynamic diameter, resulting in a final diameter of 208 ± 4 nm and a zeta potential of 53 ± 5 mV. The LbL-NS released ~ 30% of their miR-34a cargo over 5 days in 1× PBS. Excitingly, LbL-NS carrying miR-34a suppressed SIRT1 and Bcl-2 by 46 ± 3 and 35 ± 3%, respectively, and decreased cell proliferation by 33%. LbL-NS carrying scrambled miRNA did not yield these effects. Conclusion: LbL-NS can efficiently deliver miR-34a to TNBC cells to suppress cancer cell growth, warranting their further investigation as tools for miRNA replacement therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-396
Number of pages14
JournalCellular and Molecular Bioengineering
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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