Biochemical investigation of active intracellular transport of polymeric gene-delivery vectors

David M. Drake, Daniel W. Pack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


To design safe, efficient synthetic gene therapy vectors, it is desirable to understand the intracellular mechanisms that facilitate their delivery from the cell surface to the nucleus. Elements of the cytoskeleton and molecular motor proteins are known to play a pivotal role in most intracellular active transport processes. The actin depolymerizer cytochalasin D and microtubule effectors colchicine and paclitaxel were used to evaluate the function of these components of the cytoskeleton in the trafficking of polyethylenimine (PEI)-DNA complexes. In addition, ATPase inhibitors erythro-9[3-(2-hydroxynonyl)] adenine (EHNA), vanadate, adenylylimidodiphosphate (AMP-PNP), and rose bengal lactone (RBL), which have inhibitory activity against dynein and kinesin, were used to examine to the effects of these molecular motors on PEI-DNA delivery. Disruption of microfilaments decreased the delivery efficiency of PEI poly-plexes 60-80%, though cytochalasin D did not significantly inhibit uptake. Depolymerization of microtubules by colchicine decreased transfection efficiency by 75%. Microtubule stabilization with paclitaxel, however, facilitated a 20-fold increase in gene expression. Treatment with EHNA and vanadate caused 50% and 80% decreases in transfection efficiency, respectively. Transfection efficiency was also decreased by RBL (80%) and AMP-PNP (98%). Our findings confirm the importance of microfilament- and microtubule-based active transport of PEI-DNA complexes. Further, the strong decrease in transfection efficiency caused by ATPase inhibitors that possess inhibitory activity against kinesin implies an unexpected role for these motors in gene delivery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1399-1413
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Science Foundation (BES-0134163), the American Heart Association (0455462Z), and the American Cancer Society (RSG-05-019-01-CDD).

Copyright 2017 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Active transport
  • Gene delivery
  • Intracellular trafficking
  • Microtubules
  • Molecular motors
  • Nonviral vectors
  • PEI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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