Oligonucleotide targeting to alveolar macrophages by mannose receptor-mediated endocytosis

Wei Wen Liang, Xianglin Shi, Deepa Deshpande, Carl J. Malanga, Yon Rojanasakul

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79 Scopus citations


Antisense oligonucleotides (ONs) have proven useful for selective inhibition of gene expression. However, their effective use is limited by inefficient cellular uptake and lack of cellular targeting. In this paper, we report a drug targeting system which utilizes mannose receptor-mediated endocytosis to enhance cellular uptake of ONs in alveolar macrophages (AMs). The system employs a molecular complex consisting of partially substituted mannosylated poly(L-lysine) (MPL), electrostatically linked to a 5' fluorescently labeled ON. Upon recognition by the macrophage mannose receptors, the MPL was internalized by the receptor-mediated pathway, co-transporting the ON. Our results indicated that the AMs treated with the MPL:ON complex exhibited a significant increase in ON uptake (up to 17-fold) over free ON-treated controls. Effective ON uptake was shown to require the recognition of the mannose moiety since unmodified polylysine was much less effective in promoting ON uptake. Specific internalization of the ON:MPL complex by the mannose receptor pathway was verified by competitive inhibition using mannosylated albumin. Under this condition, the ON complex uptake was inhibited. The requirement of mannose receptors for complex uptake was further demonstrated using a macrophage cell line, J774.1, which expresses a low level of mannose receptors. When treated with the complex, these cells showed no susceptibility to ON uptake, thus suggesting the targeting ability of the carrier system to the AMs. Following cellular internalization, the ON complex appeared largely accumulated in endocytic vesicles. Enhanced endosomal exit of the ON was achieved using a fusogenic peptide derived from the amino terminal sequence of influenza virus hemagglutinin HA2. Cytotoxicity studies showed that at the concentrations effectively enhancing ON uptake, both MPL and the fusogenic peptide caused no toxic effects to the cells, thereby suggesting their potential safety and utilization in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-234
Number of pages8
JournalBBA - Biomembranes
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 13 1996


  • Endocytosis
  • Endosome
  • Macrophage
  • Mannose receptor
  • Oligonucleotide
  • Uptake

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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