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Multivalent mannose-conjugated siRNA causes robust gene silencing in pancreatic macrophages in vivo

Yamazaki, K;Kubara, K;Suzuki, Y;Hihara, T;Kurotaki, D;Tamura, T;Ito, M;Tsukahara, K;

Nucleic acid therapeutics have been utilized for gene regulation, and their recent advancement has led to approval of novel drugs for liver-related disorders. However, systemic extrahepatic delivery remains challenging. Here, we report newly designed mannose-conjugated oligonucleotides for delivering oligonucleotides to macrophages by leveraging the mannose receptor, C-type 1 (MRC1, CD206), which is abundantly expressed in macrophages. We investigated the relationship between cellular uptake and multivalency (mono to tetra) of mannose ligands or linker length and selected a trivalent-mannose ligand. Trivalent-mannose (Man3)-conjugated siRNA induced concentration-dependent gene silencing in both human CD206-overexpressing cells and human macrophages in vitro. After subcutaneous injection into mice, we observed a high distribution of Man3-conjugated oligonucleotides in the liver and pancreata as well as cellular uptake into Kupffer cells and pancreatic macrophages. A single subcutaneous injection of Man3-conjugated siRNA (10 mg/kg) targeting β2-microglobulin (B2M) silenced B2m mRNA expression by ∼50% and decreased its protein levels in mouse pancreatic macrophages compared to those in saline-treated mice. Of note, multiple subcutaneous injections decreased B2m gene expression and B2M protein levels by ∼80% and ∼85%, respectively. These results show that mannose-conjugation with oligonucleotides is expected to help deliver oligonucleotides to macrophages and regulate gene expression in vivo, particularly in the pancreas.