Luc Wasungu

IPBS - Institut de Pharmacologie et de Biologie Structurale, Tolosa de Llenguadoc, Midi-Pyrénées, France

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Publications (19)64.67 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: New features of cell electro-permeabilization are obtained by using high field (several tens of kV/cm) with short (sub-microsecond, nanosecond) pulse duration. Arcing appears as a main safety problem when air gaps are present between electrodes. A new applicator design was chosen to obtain a closed chamber where high field pulses could be delivered in a safe way with very short pulse duration. The safety issue of the system was validated under millisecond, microsecond and nanosecond pulses. The closed chamber applicator was then checked for its use under classical electro-mediated permeabilization and electro-gene transfer (EGT). A 20 times decrease in gene expression was observed compared with classical open chambers. It was experimentally observed that shock waves were present under the closed chamber configuration of the applicator. This was not the case with an open chamber design. Electropulsation chamber design plays a role on pulsing conditions and in the efficiency of gene electro transfer.
    Bioelectrochemistry. 01/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Electrochemotherapy (ECT) is a physical technique that allows cytotoxic molecules to be efficiently released in tumor cells by inducing transient cell plasma membrane permeabilization. The main antitumoral drugs used in ECT are nonpermeant bleomycin and low permeant cisplatin. The method is nowadays applied in clinics as a palliative treatment. In order to improve it, we took advantage of a human 3D multicellular tumor spheroid as a model of tumor to visually and molecularly assess the effect of ECT. We used bleomycin and cisplatin to confirm its relevance and doxorubicin to show its potential to screen new antitumor drug candidates for ECT. Confocal microscopy was used to visualize the topological distribution of permeabilized cells in 3D spheroids subjected to electric pulses. Our results revealed that all cells were efficiently permeabilized, whatever their localization in the spheroid, even those in the core. The combination of antitumor drugs and electric pulses (ECT) led to changes in spheroid macroscopic morphology and cell cohesion, to tumor spheroid growth arrest and finally to its complete apoptosis-mediated dislocation, mimicking previously observed in vivo situations. Taken together, these results indicate that the spheroid model is relevant for the study and optimization of electromediated drug delivery protocols.
    Journal of Controlled Release 02/2013; · 7.63 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Electro-permeabilisation allows the free access of polar compounds to the cytoplasm by a reversible alteration of the cell membrane. It is now used in clinics for the eradication of cutaneous solid tumors. New developments predict its future applications for other anti-cancer treatments.
    International Journal of Pharmaceutics 02/2012; 423(1):3-6. · 3.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Electrotransfer can be obtained by the successive delivery of a high voltage short duration pulse (HV) inducing membrane destabilization and then a low voltage long duration pulse (LV), allowing DNA electrophoresis (HVLV mode). Pluronic® L64 (L64) (Fluka, Sigma-Aldrich, L'Isle-d'Abeau Chesnes, Saint-Quentin Fallavier, France) has permeabilizing properties and amplifies the expression of DNA. We aimed to determine whether L64 could have an adjuvant effect on transfection by electrotransfer and whether the sequence L64 injection and then application of a LV pulse could induce transfection comparable to that observed with the HVLV mode. In vitro, we used fluorescence-activated cell sorting to evaluate Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cell transfection by a plasmid coding green fluorescent protein, and permeabilization to propidium iodide. In vivo, the transfection efficiency of mice tibial cranial muscle was evaluated by optical imaging using a plasmid DNA encoding luciferase. For the same animals, permeabilization indices were evaluated by magnetic resonance imaging from the uptake of a T(1) contrast agent. Using the HVLV mode, transfection efficiency was low in vitro on CHO cells but high for muscles in vivo. Pre-treatment by L64 increased the transfection efficiency of electrotransfer for CHO cells but not for muscle. In mice muscles, the L64 amplified the expression of DNA. Nevertheless, neither transgene expression, nor permeability indices were further amplified by subsequent delivery of one LV pulse. A major finding of the present study is that the nature of the membrane modification induced by electric pulses is not comparable to that mediated by L64. The electrophoretic LV pulse does not induce additive effects to that of L64 for transfection improvement.
    The Journal of Gene Medicine 02/2012; 14(3):204-15. · 2.16 Impact Factor
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    L Chopinet, L Wasungu, M-P Rols
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    ABSTRACT: Electro-gene-therapy is a promising technique for cancer treatment. However, knowledge about mechanism of gene transfer with electric field in tumor is limited. Whereas in vitro electrotransfection is efficient, gene expression in tumoral cells in vivo is weak. To determine reasons for this difference and unravel gene transfer mechanisms, we propose to use multicellular tumor spheroid as a tridimensional model ex vivo. Comparison of efficiency between cell in suspension and cells in spheroid allow highlighting fundamental differences. For classical electrical conditions (consisting in 10 pulses of 500V/cm, 5ms, 1Hz), suspension cells present a transfection rate of 23.75%±2.450 SEM. In the same conditions on spheroid, although plasmid DNA coding GFP interact with half of electrically permeabilized cells, less than 1% of cells are expressing the transgene. First answers to in vivo electrotransfection failure are given: cell mortality due to electric field is responsible of this low transfection rate, as tridimensional and multicellular structure that prevents DNA passage. These results show that spheroid is reproducing in vivo situation. Validation of spheroid as a relevant model for electrotransfection study opens ex vivo optimization possibility before in vivo assay.
    International Journal of Pharmaceutics 04/2011; 423(1):7-15. · 3.99 Impact Factor
  • Drug Discovery Today 12/2010; 15(23):1104-1105. · 6.55 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Gene transfer into muscle cells is a key issue in biomedical research. Indeed, it is important for the development of new therapy for many genetic disorders affecting this tissue and for the use of muscle tissue as a secretion platform of therapeutic proteins. Electrotransfer is a promising method to achieve gene expression in muscles. However, this method can lead to some tissue damage especially on pathologic muscles. Therefore there is a need for the development of new and less deleterious methods. Triblock copolymers as pluronic L64 are starting to be used to improve gene transfer mediated by several agents into muscle tissue. Their mechanism of action is still under investigation. The combination of electrotransfer and triblock copolymers, in allowing softening electric field conditions leading to efficient DNA transfection, could potentially represent a milder and more secure transfection method. In the present study, we addressed the possible synergy that could be obtained by combining the copolymer triblock L64 and electroporation. We have found that a pre-treatment of cells with L64 could improve the transfection efficiency. This pre-treatment was shown to increase cell viability and this is partly responsible for the improvement of transfection efficiency. We have then labelled the plasmid DNA and the pluronic L64 in order to gain some insights into the mechanism of transfection of the combined physical and chemical methods. These experiences allowed us to exclude an action of L64 either on membrane permeabilization or on DNA/membrane interaction. Using plasmids containing or not binding sequences for NF-κB and an inhibitor of NF-κB pathway activation we have shown that this beneficial effect was rather related to the NF-κB signalling pathway, as it is described for other pluronics. Finally we address here some mechanistic issues on electrically mediated transfection, L64 mediated membrane permeabilization and the combination of both for gene transfer.
    Journal of Controlled Release 09/2010; 149(2):117-25. · 7.63 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Nonviral gene therapy still suffers from low efficiency. Methods that would lead to higher gene expression level of longer duration would be a major advance in this field. Lipidic vectors and physical methods have been investigated separately, and both induced gene expression improvement. We sought to combine both chemical and physical methods. Cationic or anionic lipids can potentially destabilize the cell membrane and could consequently enhance gene delivery by a physical method such as electrotransfer. A plasmid model encoding luciferase was used, either free or associated with differently-charged lipoplexes before electrotransfer. Electrotransfer alone strongly enhanced gene expression after intramuscular and intradermal injection of naked DNA. On the other hand, cationic and anionic lipoplex formulations decreased gene expression after electrotransfer, whereas poorly-charged thiourea-based complexes, brought no benefit. Pre-injection of the lipids, followed by administration of naked DNA, did not modified gene expression induced by electroporation in the skin. The results obtained in the present study suggest that packing of DNA plasmid in lipoplexes strongly decreases the efficiency of gene electrotransfer, independently of the lipoplex charge. Non-aggregating complexes, such as poorly-charged thiourea-based complexes, should be preferred to increase DNA release.
    The Journal of Gene Medicine 06/2010; 12(6):491-500. · 2.16 Impact Factor
  • L. Chopinet, L. Wasungu, M. P. Rols
    Drug Discovery Today - DRUG DISCOV TODAY. 01/2010; 15(23):1104-1104.
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    ABSTRACT: Electropulsation is one of the nonviral methods successfully used to deliver genes into living cells in vitro and in vivo. This approach shows promise in the field of gene and cellular therapies. The present review focuses on the processes supporting gene electrotransfer in vitro. In the first part, we will report the events occurring before, during, and after pulse application in the specific field of plasmid DNA electrotransfer at the cell level. A critical discussion of the present theoretical considerations about membrane electropermeabilization and the transient structures in-volved in the plasmid uptake follows in a second part.
    Biophysical Reviews 11/2009; 1(DOI 10.1007/s12551-009-0022-7):117-184.
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    ABSTRACT: Gene electrotransfer can be obtained not just on single cells in diluted suspension. For more than 10 years, this is a quasi routine strategy in tissue on the living animal and a few clinical trials have now been approved. New problems have been brought by the close contacts of cells in tissue both on the local field distribution and on the access of DNA to target cells. They need to be solved to provide a further improvement in the efficacy and safety of protein expression. There is a competition between gene transfer and cell destruction. Nevertheless, present results are indicative that electrotransfer is a promising approach for gene therapy. High level and long-lived expression of proteins can be obtained in muscles. This is used for a successful method of electrovaccination.
    Biophysical Reviews 11/2009; 1(DOI 10.1007/s12551-009-0019-2):185-191.
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    ABSTRACT: Electropermeabilization is a physical method to deliver molecules into cells and tissues. Clinical applications have been successfully developed for antitumoral drug delivery and clinical trials for gene electrotransfer are currently underway. However, little is known about the mechanisms involved in this transfer. The main difficulties stem from the lack of single cell models which reliably replicate the complex in vivo environment. In order to increase our understanding of the DNA electrotransfer process, we exploited multicellular tumor spheroids as an ex vivo model of tumor. We used confocal microscopy to visualize the repartition of permeabilized cells in spheroids subjected to electric pulses. Our results reveal that even if cells can be efficiently permeabilized with electric fields, including those cells present inside the spheroids, gene expression is by contrast limited to the external layers of cells. Taken together, these results, in agreement with the ones obtained in tumors, indicate that the spheroid model is more relevant to an in vivo situation than cells cultured as monolayers. They validate the spheroid model as a way to study electro-mediated gene delivery processes.
    International Journal of Pharmaceutics 10/2009; 379(2):278-84. · 3.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cell membranes can be transiently permeabilized under application of electric pulses. This treatment allows hydrophilic therapeutic molecules, such as anticancer drugs and DNA, to enter into cells and tissues. This process, called electropermeabilization or electroporation, has been rapidly developed over the last decade to deliver genes to tissues and organs, but there is a general agreement that very little is known about what is really occurring during membrane electropermeabilization. It is well accepted that the entry of small molecules, such as anticancer drugs, occurs mostly through simple diffusion after the pulse while the entry of macromolecules, such as DNA, occurs through a multistep mechanism involving the electrophoretically driven interaction of the DNA molecule with the destabilized membrane during the pulse and then its passage across the membrane. Therefore, successful DNA electrotransfer into cells depends not only on cell permeabilization but also on the way plasmid DNA interacts with the plasma membrane and, once into the cytoplasm, migrates towards the nucleus. The focus of this review is to describe the different aspects of what is known of the mechanism of membrane permeabilization and associated gene transfer and, by doing so, what are the actual limits of the DNA delivery into cells.
    Molecular Biotechnology 12/2008; 41(3):286-95. · 2.26 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cationic lipids are exploited as vectors ('lipoplexes') for delivering nucleic acids, including genes, into cells for both therapeutic and cell biological purposes. However, to meet therapeutic requirements, their efficacy needs major improvement, and better defining the mechanism of entry in relation to eventual transfection efficiency could be part of such a strategy. Endocytosis is the major pathway of entry, but the relative contribution of distinct endocytic pathways, including clathrin- and caveolae-mediated endocytosis and/or macropinocytosis is as yet poorly defined. Escape of DNA/RNA from endosomal compartments is thought to represent a major obstacle. Evidence is accumulating that non-lamellar phase changes of the lipoplexes, facilitated by intracellular lipids, which allow DNA to dissociate from the vector and destabilize endosomal membranes, are instrumental in plasmid translocation into the cytosol, a prerequisite for nuclear delivery. To further clarify molecular mechanisms and to appreciate and overcome intracellular hurdles in lipoplex-mediated gene delivery, quantification of distinct steps in overall transfection and proper model systems are required.
    Biochemical Society Transactions 03/2007; 35(Pt 1):68-71. · 2.59 Impact Factor
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    Luc Wasungu, Dick Hoekstra
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    ABSTRACT: As a consequence of several setbacks encountered by viral technology in achieving efficient and safe gene therapy in clinical trials, non-viral gene delivery vectors are considered to date as a valuable alternative and to hold promise for future therapeutic applications. Nevertheless, the transfection efficiency mediated by these non-viral gene delivery vectors has to be improved, especially in vivo, to benefit fully from their advantages. Cationic lipid/nucleic acid complexes or lipoplexes have been the subject of intensive investigations in recent years to understand the parameters governing the efficiency of transfection. Specifically, the comprehension of such mechanisms, from the formation of the complexes to their intracellular delivery, will lead to the design of better adapted non-viral vectors for gene therapy applications. Here, we will discuss some recent developments in the field on the structure/function relationship of cationic lipids in the mechanism of transfection, and where appropriate, we will make a comparison with mechanisms of viral and polyplex-mediated gene delivery. Cationic lipids are often used in combination with helper lipids such as DOPE or cholesterol. The effect of DOPE on lipoplex assembly and the relevance of the structural properties of the lipoplexes in destabilizing endosomal membranes and mediating endosomal escape of DNA will be discussed.
    Journal of Controlled Release 12/2006; 116(2):255-64. · 7.63 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The present study aims at a better understanding of the mechanism of transfection mediated by two sugar-based gemini surfactants GS1 and GS2. Previously, these gemini surfactants have been shown to be efficient gene vectors for transfection both in vitro and in vivo. Here, using Nile Red, a solvatochromic fluorescent probe, we investigated the phase behavior of these gemini surfactants in complexes with plasmid DNA, so-called lipoplexes. We found that these lipoplexes undergo a lamellar-to-non-inverted micellar phase transition upon decreasing the pH from neutral to mildly acidic. This normal (non-inverted) phase at acidic pH is confirmed by the colloidal stability of the lipoplexes as shown by turbidity measurements. We therefore propose a normal hexagonal phase, H(I), for the gemini surfactant lipoplexes at acidic endosomal pH. Thus, we suggest that besides an inverted hexagonal (H(II)) phase as reported for several transfection-potent cationic lipid systems, another type of non-inverted non-bilayer structure, different from H(II), may destabilize the endosomal membrane, necessary for cytosolic DNA delivery and ultimately, cellular transfection.
    Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 11/2006; 1758(10):1677-84. · 4.66 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In this study, the in vitro and in vivo transfection capacity of novel pH-sensitive sugar-based gemini surfactants was investigated. In an aqueous environment at physiological pH, these compounds form bilayer vesicles, but they undergo a lamellar-to-micellar phase transition in the endosomal pH range as a consequence of an increased protonation state. In the same way, lipoplexes made with these amphiphiles exhibit a lamellar morphology at physiological pH and a non-lamellar phase at acidic pH. In this study, we confirm that the gemini surfactants are able to form complexes with plasmid DNA at physiological pH and are able to transfect efficiently CHO cells in vitro. Out of the five compounds tested here, two of these amphiphiles, GS1 and GS2, led to 70% of transfected cells with a good cell survival. These two compounds were tested further for in vivo applications. Because of their lamellar organisation, these lipoplexes exhibited a good colloidal stability in salt and in serum at physiological pH compatible with a prolonged stability in vivo. Indeed, when injected intravenously to mice, these stable lipoplexes apparently did not substantially accumulate, as inferred from the observation that transfection of the lungs was not detectable, as examined by in vivo bioluminescence. This potential of avoiding 'preliminary capture' in the lungs may, thus, be further exploited in developing devices for specific targeting of gemini lipoplexes.
    Journal of Molecular Medicine 10/2006; 84(9):774-84. · 4.77 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cationic liposomes are applied to transfer oligonucleotides (ODNs) into cells to regulate gene expression for gene therapeutic or cell biological purposes. In vivo, poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG)-lipid derivatives are employed to stabilize and prolong the circulation lifetime of nucleic acid-containing particles, and to improve targeting strategies. In this study, we have studied the effects of PEG-lipid analogues, i.e. PEG coupled to either phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) or ceramide, on cationic-lipid-DNA complex ('lipoplex') assembly and the mechanism of cationic-lipid-mediated delivery of ODNs in vitro. Inclusion of 10 mol% PEG-PE in ODN lipoplexes inhibited their internalization in Chinese hamster ovary cells by more than 70%. The intracellular fraction remained entrapped in the endosomal/lysosomal pathway, and no release of ODNs was apparent. Similar observations were made for complexes prepared from liposomes that contained PEG-ceramides. Interestingly, delivery resumed when lipoplexes had been externally coated with PEG-ceramides. In this case, the kinetics of delivery were dependent on the length of the ceramide acyl chain, consistent with a requirement for the PEG-lipid to dissociate from the complex. Moreover, although the chemical nature of the PEG-ceramides distinctly affected the net internalization of the complexes, impediment of delivery was largely related to an inhibitory effect of the PEG-lipid on the release of ODNs from the endosomal compartment. Cryo-electron microscopy and small-angle X-ray scattering revealed that the PEG-lipids stabilize the lamellar phase of the lipoplexes, while their acyl-chain-length-dependent transfer from the complex enables adaptation of the hexagonal phase. Within the endosomal compartment, this transition appears to be instrumental in causing the dissociation and cytosolic release of the ODNs for their nuclear homing.
    Biochemical Journal 09/2002; 366(Pt 1):333-41. · 4.65 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

499 Citations
64.67 Total Impact Points


  • 2008–2014
    • IPBS - Institut de Pharmacologie et de Biologie Structurale
      • Department of Structural Biology and Biophysics
      Tolosa de Llenguadoc, Midi-Pyrénées, France
  • 2006
    • Universitair Medisch Centrum Groningen
      Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands
  • 2002–2006
    • University of Groningen
      • • Department of Cell Biology
      • • Faculty of Medical Sciences
      Groningen, Province of Groningen, Netherlands