Efficacy of immobilized polyplexes and lipoplexes for substrate-mediated gene delivery

Zain Bengali, Jennifer C Rea, Romie F Gibly, Lonnie D Shea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Non-viral gene delivery by immobilization of complexes to cell-adhesive biomaterials, a process termed substrate-mediated delivery, has many in vitro research applications such as transfected cell arrays or models of tissue growth. In this report, we quantitatively investigate the efficiency of gene delivery by surface immobilization, and compare this efficiency to the more typical bolus delivery. The ability to immobilize vectors while allowing cellular internalization is impacted by the biomaterial and vector properties. Thus, to compare this efficiency between vector types and delivery methods, transfection conditions were initially identified that maximized transgene expression. For surface delivery from tissue culture polystyrene, DNA complexes were immobilized to pre-adsorbed serum proteins prior to cell seeding, while for bolus delivery, complexes were added to the media above adherent cells. Mathematical modeling of vector binding, release, and cell association using a two-site model indicated that the kinetics of polyplex binding to cells was faster than for lipoplexes, yet both vectors have a half-life on the surface of approximately 17 min. For bolus and surface delivery, the majority of the DNA in the system remained in solution or on the surface, respectively. For polyplexes, the efficiency of trafficking of cell-associated polyplexes to the nucleus for surface delivery is similar or less than bolus delivery, suggesting that surface immobilization may decrease the activity of the complex. The efficiency of nuclear association for cell-associated lipoplexes is similar or greater for surface delivery relative to bolus. These studies suggest that strategies to enhance surface delivery for polyplexes should target the vector design to enhance its potency, whereas enhancing lipoplex delivery should target the material design to increase internalization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1679-91
Number of pages13
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Issue number6
StatePublished - Apr 15 2009


  • Algorithms
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • DNA/chemistry
  • Gene Transfer Techniques
  • Genetic Vectors/metabolism
  • Imines/chemistry
  • Immobilized Proteins/metabolism
  • Kinetics
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Lysosomes/metabolism
  • Mice
  • Models, Molecular
  • NIH 3T3 Cells
  • Plasmids/metabolism
  • Polyethylenes/chemistry
  • Protein Binding
  • Transfection/methods


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