Dendrons with spermine surface groups as potential building blocks for nonviral vectors in gene therapy

John G. Hardy, Mauri A. Kostiainen, David K. Smith, Nathan P. Gabrielson, Daniel W. Pack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


This paper investigates a series of dendrons based on the Newkome dendritic scaffold that displays a naturally occurring polyamine (spermine) on their surface. These dendrons have previously been shown to interact with DNA in a generation dependent manner with the more highly branched dendrons exhibiting a strong multivalency effect for the spermine surface groups. In this paper, we investigate the ability of these dendrons to transfect DNA into cells (human breast carcinoma cells, MDA-MB-231, and murine myoblast cells, C2C12) as determined by the luciferase assay. Although the dendrons are unable to transfect DNA in their own right, they are capable of delivering DNA in vitro when administered with chloroquine, which assists with escape from endocytic vesicles. The cytotoxicity of the dendrons was determined using the XTT assay, and it was shown that the dendrons were nontoxic either alone or in the presence of DNA. However, when administered with DNA and chloroquine, the most highly branched dendron did exhibit some cytotoxicity. This paper elucidates the relationship between in vitro transfection efficiency and toxicity. While transfection efficiencies are modest, the low toxicity of the dendrons, both in their own right, and in the presence of DNA, provides encouragement that this type of building block, which has a relatively high affinity for DNA, will provide a useful starting point for the further synthetic development of more effective gene transfection agents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)172-178
Number of pages7
JournalBioconjugate Chemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Organic Chemistry


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