Hypoxia-inducible bidirectional shrna expression vector delivery using pei/chitosan-tba copolymers for colorectal cancer gene therapy

Bita Javan,1,* Fatemeh atyabi,2 Majid shahbazi,3

2. Department of Pharmaceutics, Faculty of Pharmacy, Nanotechnology Research Centre, Tehran University of Medical Sciences,
3. Department of Molecular Medicine, School of Advanced Technologies in Medicine, Golestan University of Medical Sciences,



Aims: gene therapy has been considered a promising approach for colon cancer therapy. this investigation was conducted to construct a hypoxia/colorectal dual-specific bidirectional short hairpin rna (shrna) expression vector and to transfect it into the colon cancer cell line ht-29 with pei/chitosan-tba nanoparticles for the simultaneous knock down of β-catenin and bcl-2 under hypoxia.


Main methods: to construct a prna-biphre-cea vector, the carcinoma embryonic antigen (cea) promoter designed in two directions and the vascular endothelial growth factor (vegf) enhancer were inserted between two promoters for hypoxic cancer specific gene expression. to confirm the therapeutic effect of the dual-specific vector, β-catenin and bcl-2 shrnas were inserted downstream of each promoter. the physicochemical properties, the cytotoxicity, and the transfection efficiency of these pei/chitosan-tba nanoparticles were investigated. in addition, the antitumor effects of the designed vector on the expression of β-catenin and bcl-2, cell cycle distribution, and apoptosis were investigated in vitro.


Results: the silencing effect of the hypoxia-response shrna expression vector was relatively low (18%–25%) under normoxia, whereas it was significantly increased to approximately 50%–60% in the ht-29 cell line. moreover, the cancer cells showed significant g0/g1 arrest and increased apoptosis due to gene silencing under hypoxia. furthermore, mts assay, fluorescence microscopy images, and flow cytometry analyses confirmed that the pei/chitosan-tba blend system provided effective transfection with low cytotoxicity.


Conclution: this novel hypoxia-responsive shrna expression vector may be useful for rna interference (rnai)-based cancer gene therapy in hypoxic colorectal tumors. moreover, the pei/chitosan-tba copolymer might be a promising gene carrier for use in gene transfer in vivo.


Bcl-2 β-catenin rna interference pei/chitosan-tba hypoxia