Systemic Delivery of Anti-miRNA for Suppression of Triple Negative Breast Cancer Utilizing RNA Nanotechnology

Dan Shu, Hui Li, Yi Shu, Gaofeng Xiong, William E. Carson, Farzin Haque, Ren Xu, Peixuan Guo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

217 Scopus citations


MicroRNAs play important roles in regulating the gene expression and life cycle of cancer cells. In particular, miR-21, an oncogenic miRNA is a major player involved in tumor initiation, progression, invasion and metastasis in several cancers, including triple negative breast cancer (TNBC). However, delivery of therapeutic miRNA or anti-miRNA specifically into cancer cells in vivo without collateral damage to healthy cells remains challenging. We report here the application of RNA nanotechnology for specific and efficient delivery of anti-miR-21 to block the growth of TNBC in orthotopic mouse models. The 15 nm therapeutic RNA nanoparticles contains the 58-nucleotide (nt) phi29 pRNA-3WJ as a core, a 8-nt sequence complementary to the seed region of miR-21, and a 39-nt epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) targeting aptamer for internalizing RNA nanoparticles into cancer cells via receptor mediated endocytosis. The RNase resistant and thermodynamically stable RNA nanoparticles remained intact after systemic injection into mice and strongly bound to tumors with little or no accumulation in healthy organs 8 h postinjection, and subsequently repressed tumor growth at low doses. The observed specific cancer targeting and tumor regression is a result of several key attributes of RNA nanoparticles: anionic charge which disallows nonspecific passage across negatively charged cell membrane; active targeting using RNA aptamers which increases the homing of RNA nanoparticles to cancer cells; nanoscale size and shape which avoids rapid renal clearance and engulfment by lung macrophages and liver Kupffer cells; favorable biodistribution profiles with little accumulation in healthy organs, which minimizes nonspecific side effects; and favorable pharmacokinetic profiles with extended in vivo half-life. The results demonstrate the clinical potentials of RNA nanotechnology based platform to deliver miRNA based therapeutics for cancer treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9731-9740
Number of pages10
JournalACS Nano
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 27 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 American Chemical Society.


  • EGFR RNA aptamer
  • RNA nanotechnology
  • miRNA
  • three-way junction
  • triple negative breast cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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