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Role of temperature-independent lipoplex-cell membrane interactions in the efficiency boost of multicomponent lipoplexes

  • Author(s): Marchini, C
  • Pozzi, D
  • Montani, M
  • Alfonsi, C
  • Amici, A
  • Candeloro De Sanctis, S
  • Digman, MA
  • Sanchez, S
  • Gratton, E
  • Amenitsch, H
  • Fabbretti, A
  • Gualerzi, CO
  • Caracciolo, G
  • et al.
Abstract

Multicomponent lipoplexes have recently emerged as especially promising transfection candidates, as they are from 10 to 100 times more efficient than binary complexes usually employed for gene delivery purposes. Previously, we investigated a number of chemical-physical properties of DNA-lipid complexes that were proposed to affect transfection efficiency (TE) of lipoplexes, such as nanoscale structure, size, surface potential, DNA-protection ability and DNA release from complexes upon interaction with cellular lipids. Although some minor differences between multicomponent and binary lipoplexes were found, they did not correlate clearly with efficiency. Instead, here we show that a marked difference between the cell internalization mechanism of binary and multicomponent lipoplexes does exist. Multicomponent lipoplexes significantly transfect cells at 4 °C, when endocytosis does not take place suggesting that they can enter cells via a temperature-independent mechanism. Confocal fluorescence microscopy experiments showed the existence of a correlation between endosomal escape and TE. Multicomponent lipoplexes exhibited a distinctive ability of endosomal escape and release DNA into the nucleus, whereas, poorly efficient binary lipoplexes exhibited minor, if any, endosomal rupture ability and remained confined in perinuclear late endosomes. Stopped-flow mixing measurements showed that the fusion rates of multicomponent cationic liposomes with anionic vesicles, used as model systems of cell membranes, were definitely shorter than those of binary liposomes. As either lipoplex uptake and endosomal escape involve fusion between lipoplex and cellular membranes, we suggest that a mechanism of lipoplex-cellular membrane interaction, driven by lipid mixing between cationic and anionic cellular lipids, does explain the TE boost of multicomponent lipoplexes. © 2011 Nature America, Inc. All rights reserved.

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