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Biochemistry. 1988 Feb 9;27(3):887-92.

Evidence for targeted gene delivery to Hep G2 hepatoma cells in vitro.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Farmington 06032.


We have developed a system for targeting foreign DNA to hepatocytes in vitro using a soluble DNA carrier that takes advantage of receptor-mediated endocytosis to achieve internalization. The idea is based on the fact that hepatocytes possess a unique receptor that binds and internalizes galactose-terminal (asialo)glycoproteins. To create a targetable carrier system that could bind DNA in a nondeforming manner, we used poly(L-lysine) to bind DNA in a strong but noncovalent interaction. An asialoglycoprotein, asialoorosomucoid (AsOR), was chemically coupled to poly(L-lysine) to form an asialoorosomucoid-poly(L-lysine) conjugate. Various proportions of conjugate to DNA were tested to determine conditions that maximized DNA content in a soluble complex and that limited solubility of complexes. To test the targetable gene delivery system, AsOR-poly(L-lysine) conjugate was complexed to the plasmid pSV2 CAT containing the gene for chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) driven by an SV-40 promoter. We tested this complex using a model system consisting of human hepatoma cell line Hep G2 [asialoglycoprotein receptor (+)], hepatoma SK-Hep 1, IMR-90 fibroblasts, and uterine smooth muscle [receptor (-)] cells. Each cell line was incubated with 0.2 micron filtered AsOR-poly(L-lysine)-DNA complex or controls consisting of DNA plus AsOR, DNA plus poly(L-lysine), or DNA alone. Cells were assayed for the presence of CAT activity as a measure of gene transformation. SK-Hep 1, IMR-90, and smooth muscle [receptor (-)] cells produced no detectable acetylated chloramphenicol derivatives under any of these conditions.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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