Aptamer micelles targeting fractalkine-expressing cancer cells in vitro and in vivo

Michael A. Harris, Timothy R. Pearce, Thomas Pengo, Huihui Kuang, Colleen Forster, Efie Kokkoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


In this work we hypothesized that the chemokine fractalkine can serve as a cancer molecular target. We engineered aptamer micelles functionalized with an outer poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) corona, and investigated the extent and efficacy of using them as a targeting tool against fractalkine-expressing colon adenocarcinoma cells. In vitro cell binding results showed that aptamer micelles bound and internalized to fractalkine-expressing cancer cells with the majority of the micelles found free in the cytoplasm. Minimal surface binding was observed by healthy cells. Even though partial PEGylation did not prevent serum adsorption, micelles were highly resistant to endonuclease and exonuclease degradation. In vivo biodistribution studies and confocal studies demonstrated that even though both aptamer and control micelles showed tumor accumulation, only the aptamer micelles internalized into fractalkine-expressing cancer cells, thus demonstrating the potential of the approach and showing that fractalkine may serve as a specific target for nanoparticle delivery to cancer cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-96
Number of pages12
JournalNanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This work was funded by NSF/CBET-1159967 and by E.K.'s Shell Land Grant Chair at the University of Minnesota. Parts of this work were carried out in the University of Minnesota Characterization Facility, which receives partial support from NSF through the MRSEC program, the University Imaging Centers, and the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Inc.


  • CXCL1 chemokine
  • Colon cancer
  • Fractalkine
  • Targeted delivery
  • ssDNA aptamer micelles


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