Background In Doxil®, PEGylated nanoliposomes are created by hydration of the lipids in ammonium sulfate, and are remotely loaded with doxorubicin by a transmembrane ammonium gradient. The ammonium sulfate is then removed from the external aqueous phase, surrounding the liposomes, and replaced by an isoosmotic sucrose solution in 10 mM histidine buffer at pH 6.5. Methods We prepared PEGylated liposomal doxorubicin (PLD) with a series of ammonium monovalent salts that after remote loading became the intraliposome doxorubicin counteranions. We analyzed the liposomes by solution X-ray scattering, differential scanning calorimetry, and electron micropscopy. Results PLDs prepared with sulfonic acid derivatives as counteranion exhibited chemical and physical stabilities. We determined the effect of these ammonium salt counteranions on the structure, morphology, and thermotropic behavior of the PEGylated nanoliposomes, formed before and after doxorubicin loading, and the bulk properties of the doxorubicin-counteranion complexes. By comparing the structure of the doxorubicin complexes in the bulk and inside the nanoliposomes, we revealed the effect of confinement on the structure and doxorubicin release rate for each of the derivatives of the ammonium sulfonic acid counteranions. Conclusions We found that the extent and direction of the doxorubicin confinement effect and its release rate were strongly dependent on the type of counteranion. The counteranions, however, neither affected the structure and thermotropic behavior of the liposome membrane, nor the thickness and density of the liposome PEG layers. In an additional study, it was demonstrated that PLD made with ammonium-methane sulfonate exhibit a much lower Hand and Foot syndrome. General significance The structure, physical state, and pharmacokinetics of doxorubicin in PEGylated nanoliposomes, prepared by transmembrane remote loading using gradients of ammonium salts, strongly depend on the counteranions.
Virus are remarkable self-assembled nanobiomaterial-based machines, exposed to a wide range of pH values. Extreme pH values can induce dramatic structural changes, critical for the function of the virus nanoparticles including assembly and genome uncoating. Tuning cargo - capsid interactions is essential for designing viral-based delivery systems. Here we show how pH controls the structure and activity of wild-type simian virus 40 (wtSV40) and the interplay between its cargo and capsid. Using cryo-TEM and solution X-ray scattering, we found that wtSV40 was stable between pH 5.5 and 9, and only slightly swelled with increasing pH. At pH 3, the particles aggregated, while capsid protein pentamers continued to coat the virus cargo but lost their positional correlations. Infectivity was only partly lost after the particles had been returned to pH 7. At pH 10 or higher, the particles were unstable, lost their infectivity, and disassembled. Using time-resolved experiments we discovered that disassembly began by swelling of the particles, poking a hole in the capsid through which the genetic cargo escaped, and followed by a slight shrinking of the capsids and complete disassembly. These findings provide insight into the fundamental intermolecular forces, essential for SV40 function, and for designing virus-based nanobiomaterials, including delivery systems and antiviral drugs.
Viruses have been of interest to mankind since their discovery as small infectious agents in the nineteenth century. Because many viruses cause diseases to humans and agriculture, they were rigorously studied for biological and medical purposes. Viruses have remarkable properties such as the symmetry and self-assembly of their protein envelope, maturation into infectious virions, structural stability, and disassembly. Solution X-ray scattering can probe structures and reactions in solutions, down to subnanometer spatial resolution and millisecond temporal resolution. It probes the bulk solution and reveals the average shape and average mass of particles in solution and can be used to study kinetics and thermodynamics of viruses at different stages of their life cycle. Here we review recent work that demonstrates the capabilities of solution X-ray scattering to study in vitro the viral life cycle.