Dendrons and Multiarm Polymers with Thiol-Exchangeable Cores: A Reversible Conjugation Platform for Delivery

Gok Ö., Erturk P., Bolu B. S. , Gevrek T. N. , Sanyal R., Sanyal A.

BIOMACROMOLECULES, vol.18, no.8, pp.2463-2477, 2017 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 18 Issue: 8
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Doi Number: 10.1021/acs.biomac.7b00619
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded
  • Page Numbers: pp.2463-2477


Disulfide exchange reaction has emerged as a powerful tool for reversible conjugation of proteins, peptides and thiol containing molecules to polymeric supports. In particular, the pyridyl disulfide group provides an efficient handle for the site-specific conjugation of therapeutic peptides and proteins bearing cysteine moieties. In this study, novel biodegradable dendritic platforms containing a pyridyl disulfide unit at their focal point were designed. Presence of hydroxyl groups at the periphery of these dendrons allows their elaboration to multivalent initiators that yield poly(ethylene glycol) based multiarm star polymers via controlled radical polymerization. The pyridyl disulfide unit at the core of these star polymers undergoes efficient reaction with thiol functional group containing molecules such as a hydrophobic dye, namely, Bodipy-SH, glutathione, and KLAK sequence containing peptide. While conjugation of the hydrophobic fluorescent dye to the PEG-based multiarm polymer renders it water-soluble, it cleaved off the construct through thiol disulfide exchange in the presence of an external thiol such as dithiothreitol. multiarm polymer was conjugated with a thiol group containing apoptotic peptide to increase its solubility and cellular transport. In vitro cytotoxicity and apoptosis assays demonstrated that the resultant peptide polymer conjugate had almost five times more apoptotic potential primarily through triggering apoptosis by disrupting mitochondrial membranes of human breast cancer cell line (MDA-MB-231) compared to naked peptide. The novel dendritic platform disclosed here offers an attractive template that can be modified to multiarm polymeric constructs bearing a "tag and release" characteristic.