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Nucleic Acids Res. 1999 Oct 1;27(19):3792-8.

Plasmid DNA size does not affect the physicochemical properties of lipoplexes but modulates gene transfer efficiency.

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UMR 133 Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique-Rhône Poulenc Rorer, Vitry sur Seine, France.


Clinical applications of gene therapy mainly depend on the development of efficient gene transfer vectors. Large DNA molecules can only be transfected into cells by using synthetic vectors such as cationic lipids and polymers. The present investigation was therefore designed to explore the physicochemical properties of cationic lipid-DNA particles, with plasmids ranging from 900 to 52 500 bp. The colloidal stability of the lipoplexes formed by complexing lipopolyamine micelles with plasmid DNA of various lengths, depending on the charge ratio, resulted in the formation of three domains, respectively corresponding to negatively, neutrally and positively charged lipoplexes. Lipoplex morphology and structure were determined by the physicochemical characteristics of the DNA and of the cationic lipid. Thus, the lamellar spacing of the structure was determined by the cationic lipid and its spherical morphology by the DNA. The main result of this study was that the morphological and structural features of the lipopolyamine-DNA complexes did not depend on plasmid DNA length. On the other hand, their gene transfer capacity was affected by the size of plasmid DNA molecules which were sandwiched between the lipid bilayers. The most effective lipopolyamine-DNA complexes for gene transfer were those containing the shortest plasmid DNA.

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