Impact of Liposomal Spherical Nucleic Acid Structure on Immunotherapeutic Function

Cassandra E. Callmann, Caroline D. Kusmierz, Jasper W. Dittmar, Leah Broger, Chad A. Mirkin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Liposomal spherical nucleic acids (L-SNAs) show significant promise as cancer immunotherapeutics. L-SNAs are highly modular nanoscale assemblies defined by a dense, upright radial arrangement of oligonucleotides around a liposomal core. Herein, we establish a set of L-SNA design rules by studying the biological and immunological properties of L-SNAs as a function of liposome composition. To achieve this, we synthesized liposomes where the lipid phosphatidylcholine headgroup was held constant, while the diacyl lipid tail chain length and degree of saturation were varied, using either 1,2-dioleylphosphatidylcholine (DOPC), 1,2-dimyristoyl-phosphatidylcholine (DMPC), 1,2-dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine (DPPC), or 1,2-distearoyl-phosphatidylcholine (DSPC). These studies show that the identity of the constituent lipid dictates the DNA loading, cellular uptake, serum stability, in vitro immunostimulatory activity, and in vivo lymph node accumulation of the L-SNA. Furthermore, in the 4T1 mouse model of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), the subcutaneous administration of immunostimulatory L-SNAs synthesized with DPPC significantly decreases the production of lung metastases and delays tumor growth as compared to L-SNAs synthesized using DOPC, due to the enhanced stability of L-SNAs synthesized with DPPC over those synthesized with DOPC. Moreover, the inclusion of cell lysates derived from Py8119 TNBC cells as antigen sources in L-SNAs leads to a significant increase in antitumor efficacy in the Py8119 model when lysates are encapsulated in the cores of L-SNAs synthesized with DPPC rather than DOPC, presumably due to increased codelivery of adjuvant and antigen to dendritic cells in vivo. This difference is further amplified when using lysates from oxidized Py8119 cells as a more potent antigen source, revealing synergy between the lysate preparation method and liposome composition in synthesizing immunotherapeutic L-SNAs. Together, this work shows that the biological properties and immunomodulatory activity of L-SNAs can be modulated by exchanging liposome components, providing another handle for the rational design of nanoscale immunotherapeutics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)892-899
Number of pages8
JournalACS Central Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 26 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Chemistry


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