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J Control Release. 2003 Sep 19;92(1-2):189-97.

DQAsome-mediated delivery of plasmid DNA toward mitochondria in living cells.

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  • 1Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Bouve College of Health Sciences, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


DQAsomes are mitochondriotropic cationic 'bola-lipid'-based vesicles, which have been developed by us for the transport of drugs and DNA to mitochondria in living cells. This has made direct mitochondrial gene therapy feasible for the very first time. Our strategy for the delivery of DNA into the matrix of mitochondria is based upon the DQAsomal transport of a DNA-signal peptide conjugate to mitochondria, the selective liberation of this conjugate from DQAsomes at the mitochondrial membrane followed by DNA uptake via the mitochondrial protein import machinery. Using membrane-mimicking liposomes and isolated rat liver mitochondria we have shown earlier that DQAsome-DNA complexes (DQAplexes) selectively release pDNA when in contact with mitochondria-like membranes. Employing a newly developed protocol for selectively staining free pDNA in the cytosol of living cells and based on confocal fluorescence microscopic imaging we demonstrate here that DQAplexes appear to be able to escape from endosomes without loosing their pDNA load and transport the pDNA to the site of mitochondria at which at least a portion of the pDNA is released from its DQAsomal carrier. Free pDNA could not be detected anywhere else inside the cytosol of transfected cells demonstrating the target-selectivity of DQAsome-mediated DNA delivery to mitochondria.

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