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Hum Gene Ther. 2006 Sep;17(9):882-9.

Nucleocytoplasmic transport of plasmid DNA: a perilous journey from the cytoplasm to the nucleus.

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  • 1Hospital for Sick Children, Program in Cell and Lung Biology, Department of Biochemistry and Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, M5G 1X8 Canada. delphine.lechardeur@jouy.inra.fr


Nonviral vectors represent a promising approach for the safe delivery of therapeutic DNA in genetic and acquired human diseases. Before synthetic vector systems can be used for clinical applications, their limited efficacy must be addressed. At the cellular level, successful gene transfer is dependent on several additional factors including DNA uptake, release from the DNA-vector complex, and nucleocytoplasmic transport. This paper reviews the major metabolic and physical impediments that plasmid DNA vectorized by synthetic vectors encounters between the cytosol and the nucleus. Plasmid DNA that escapes the endolysosomal compartment encounters the diffusional and metabolic barriers of the cytoplasm, reducing the number of intact plasmids that reach the nuclear envelope. Nuclear translocation of DNA requires either the disassembly of the nuclear envelope during cell division or active nuclear transport via the nuclear pore complex. In the nucleus, plasmid DNA is relatively stable, but its transcription and its fate during cell division are still debated. A better understanding of the cellular and molecular basis of nonviral gene transfer during nucleocytoplasmic trafficking may provide strategies to overcome those obstacles that limit the efficiency of nonviral gene delivery. We review some of the current methods of gene transfer mediated by synthetic vectors, highlighting systems that exploit our actual knowledge of the nucleocytoplasmic transport of plasmid DNA.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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