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Amphiphilic block copolymers enhance the cellular uptake of DNA molecules through a facilitated plasma membrane transport

INSERM, U915, l'institut du thorax, Nantes, F-44000, France.
Nucleic Acids Research (Impact Factor: 8.81). 10/2010; 39(4):1610-22. DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkq922
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Amphiphilic block copolymers have been developed recently for their efficient, in vivo transfection activities in various tissues. Surprisingly, we observed that amphiphilic block copolymers such as Lutrol® do not allow the transfection of cultured cells in vitro, suggesting that the cell environment is strongly involved in their mechanism of action. In an in vitro model mimicking the in vivo situation we showed that pre-treatment of cells with Lutrol®, prior to their incubation with DNA molecules in the presence of cationic lipid, resulted in higher levels of reporter gene expression. We also showed that this improvement in transfection efficiency associated with the presence of Lutrol® was observed irrespective of the plasmid promoter. Considering the various steps that could be improved by Lutrol®, we concluded that the nucleic acids molecule internalization step is the most important barrier affected by Lutrol®. Microscopic examination of transfected cells pre-treated with Lutrol® confirmed that more plasmid DNA copies were internalized. Absence of cationic lipid did not impair Lutrol®-mediated DNA internalization, but critically impaired endosomal escape. Our results strongly suggest that in vivo, Lutrol® improves transfection by a physicochemical mechanism, leading to cellular uptake enhancement through a direct delivery into the cytoplasm, and not via endosomal pathways.

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