Fingolimod-Conjugated Charge-Altering Releasable Transporters Efficiently and Specifically Deliver mRNA to Lymphocytes in Vivo and in Vitro

Stefano Testa, Ole A.W. Haabeth, Timothy R. Blake, Trevor J. Del Castillo, Debra K. Czerwinski, Ranjani Rajapaksa, Paul A. Wender, Robert M. Waymouth, Ronald Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Charge-altering releasable transporters (CARTs) are a class of oligonucleotide delivery vehicles shown to be effective for delivery of messenger RNA (mRNA) both in vitro and in vivo. Here, we exploited the chemical versatility of the CART synthesis to generate CARTs containing the small-molecule drug fingolimod (FTY720) as a strategy to increase mRNA delivery and expression in lymphocytes through a specific ligand-receptor interaction. Fingolimod is an FDA-approved small-molecule drug that, upon in vivo phosphorylation, binds to the sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor 1 (S1P1), which is highly expressed on lymphocytes. Compared to its non-fingolimod-conjugated analogue, the fingolimod-conjugated CART achieved superior transfection of activated human and murine T and B lymphocytes in vitro. The higher transfection of the fingolimod-conjugated CARTs was lost when cells were exposed to a free fingolimod before transfection. In vivo, the fingolimod-conjugated CART showed increased mRNA delivery to marginal zone B cells and NK cells in the spleen, relative to CARTs lacking fingolimod. Moreover, fingolimod-CART-mediated mRNA delivery induces peripheral blood T-cell depletion similar to free fingolimod. Thus, we show that functionalization of CARTs with a pharmacologically validated small molecule can increase transfection of a cellular population of interest while conferring some of the targeting properties of the conjugated small molecule to the CARTs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2976-2988
Number of pages13
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 11 2022
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


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