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Bioengineered Let-7c Inhibits Orthotopic Hepatocellular Carcinoma and Improves Overall Survival with Minimal Immunogenicity.

  • Author(s): Jilek, Joseph L
  • Zhang, Qian-Yu
  • Tu, Mei-Juan
  • Ho, Pui Yan
  • Duan, Zhijian
  • Qiu, Jing-Xin
  • Yu, Ai-Ming
  • et al.
Abstract

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remains a leading cause of cancer-related deaths, warranting better therapies. Restoration of tumor-suppressive microRNAs depleted in hepatocellular carcinoma represents a new therapeutic strategy. Herein, we sought to identify a potent microRNA (miRNA) agent that could alleviate HCC tumor burden and improve survival. Among a collection of bioengineered noncoding RNA molecules produced through bacterial fermentation, we identified let-7c agent as the most potent inhibitor of HCC cell viability. Bioengineered let-7c selectively modulated target gene expression (Lin-28 homolog B [LIN28B], AT-rich interactive domain-containing protein 3B [ARID3B], B cell lymphoma-extra large [Bcl-xl], and c-Myc) in HCC cells, and consequently induced apoptosis and inhibited tumorsphere growth. When formulated with liposomal-branched polyethylenimine polyplex, bioengineered let-7c exhibited serum stability up to 24 h. Furthermore, liposomal polyplex-formulated let-7c could effectively reduce tumor burden and progression in orthotopic HCC mouse models, while linear polyethyleneimine-formulated let-7c to a lower degree, as revealed by live animal and ex vivo tissue imaging studies. This was also supported by reduced serum α-fetoprotein and bilirubin levels in let-7c-treated mice. In addition, lipopolyplex-formulated let-7c extended overall survival of HCC tumor-bearing mice and elicited no or minimal immune responses in healthy immunocompetent mice and human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. These results demonstrate that bioengineered let-7c is a promising molecule for advanced HCC therapy, and liposomal polyplex is a superior modality for in vivo RNA delivery.

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