A fusion protein comprising an antibody and a cationic peptide, such as arginine-9 (R9), is a candidate molecule for efficient and cell-specific delivery of siRNA into cells in order to reduce the side effects of nucleic acid drugs. However, their expression in bacterial hosts, required for their development, often fails, impeding research progress. In this study, we separately prepared anti-EGFR nanobodies with the K-tag sequence MRHKGS at the C-terminus and R9 with the Q-tag sequence LLQG at the N-terminus, and enzymatically ligated them in vitro by microbial transglutaminase to generate Nanobody-R9, which is not expressed as a fused protein in E. coli. Nanobody-R9 was synthesized at a maximum binding efficiency of 85.1%, without changing the binding affinity of the nanobody for the antigen. Nanobody-R9 successfully delivered siRNA into the cells, and the cellular influx of siRNA increased with increase in the ratio of Nanobody-R9 to siRNA. We further demonstrated that the Nanobody-R9–siRNA complex, at a 30:1 ratio, induced an approximately 58.6% reduction in the amount of target protein due to RNAi in mRNA compared to lipofectamine.
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