Transgenic genome integration using non-viral vehicles is a promising approach for gene therapy. Previous studies reported that asparagine is a key regulator of cancer cell amino acid homeostasis, anabolic metabolism and cell proliferation. The depletion of asparagine would inhibit the growth of many cancer cells. In this study, we develop a nanoparticle delivery system to permanently integrate the asparaginase gene into the genome of human lung adenocarcinoma cells. The asparaginase plasmid and the Sleeping Beauty plasmid were co-transfected using amine-functionalized mesoporous nanoparticles into the human lung adenocarcinoma cells. The intracellular asparaginase expression led to the cell cytotoxicity for PC9 and A549 cells. In addition, the combination of the chemotherapy and the asparaginase gene therapy additively enhanced the cell cytotoxicity of PC9 and A549 cells to 69% and 63%, respectively. Finally, we showed that the stable cell clones were successfully made by puromycin selection. The doxycycline-induced expression of asparaginase caused almost complete cell death of PC9 and A549 asparaginase-integrated stable cells. This work demonstrates that silica-based nanoparticles have great potential in gene delivery for therapeutic purposes.
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