Enhancing CRISPR/Cas gene editing through modulating cellular mechanical properties for cancer therapy

Di Zhang, Guoxun Wang, Xueliang Yu, Tuo Wei, Lukas Farbiak, Lindsay T. Johnson, Alan Mark Taylor, Jiazhu Xu, Yi Hong, Hao Zhu, Daniel J. Siegwart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Genome editing holds great potential for cancer treatment due to the ability to precisely inactivate or repair cancer-related genes. However, delivery of CRISPR/Cas to solid tumours for efficient cancer therapy remains challenging. Here we targeted tumour tissue mechanics via a multiplexed dendrimer lipid nanoparticle (LNP) approach involving co-delivery of focal adhesion kinase (FAK) siRNA, Cas9 mRNA and sgRNA (siFAK + CRISPR-LNPs) to enable tumour delivery and enhance gene-editing efficacy. We show that gene editing was enhanced >10-fold in tumour spheroids due to increased cellular uptake and tumour penetration of nanoparticles mediated by FAK-knockdown. siFAK + CRISPR-PD-L1-LNPs reduced extracellular matrix stiffness and efficiently disrupted PD-L1 expression by CRISPR/Cas gene editing, which significantly inhibited tumour growth and metastasis in four mouse models of cancer. Overall, we provide evidence that modulating the stiffness of tumour tissue can enhance gene editing in tumours, which offers a new strategy for synergistic LNPs and other nanoparticle systems to treat cancer using gene editing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNature Nanotechnology
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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