Gold-Nanocluster-Mediated Delivery of siRNA to Intact Plant Cells for Efficient Gene Knockdown.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1021/acs.nanolett.1c01792
RNA interference, which involves the delivery of small interfering RNA (siRNA), has been used to validate target genes, to understand and control cellular metabolic pathways, and to use as a "green" alternative to confer pest tolerance in crops. Conventional siRNA delivery methods such as viruses and Agrobacterium-mediated delivery exhibit plant species range limitations and uncontrolled DNA integration into the plant genome. Here, we synthesize polyethylenimine-functionalized gold nanoclusters (PEI-AuNCs) to mediate siRNA delivery into intact plants and show that these nanoclusters enable efficient gene knockdown. We further demonstrate that PEI-AuNCs protect siRNA from RNase degradation while the complex is small enough to bypass the plant cell wall. Consequently, AuNCs enable gene knockdown with efficiencies of up 76.5 ± 5.9% and 76.1 ± 9.5% for GFP and ROQ1, respectively, with no observable toxicity. Our data suggest that AuNCs can deliver siRNA into intact plant cells for broad applications in plant biotechnology.