Biosurfactant MEL-A enhances cellular association and gene transfection by cationic liposome

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Mannnosylerythritol lipid A (MEL-A), a biosurfactant produced by microorganisms, has many biological activities. To enhance the gene transfection efficiency of a cationic liposome, we prepared a MEL-liposome (MEL-L) composed of 3β-[N-(N′,N′-dimethylaminoethane)-carbamoyl] cholesterol (DC-Chol), dioleoyl phosphatidylethanolamine (DOPE) and MEL-A, and investigated its transfection efficiency in human cervix carcinoma Hela cells. MEL-L was about 40 nm in size, and the MEL-L/plasmid DNA complex (MEL-lipoplex) remained an injectable size (169 nm). MEL-A induced a significantly higher level of gene expression, compared to commercially available Tfx20 and the liposome without MEL-A (Cont-L). Analysis of flow cytometric profiles clearly indicated that the amount of DNA associated with the cells was rapidly increased and sustained by addition of MEL-A to the liposome. Confocal microscopic observation indicated that the MEL-lipoplex distributed widely in the cytoplasm, and the DNA was detected strongly in the cytoplasm and around the nucleus, compared with Cont-L. These results suggested that MEL-A increased gene expression by enhancing the association of the lipoplexes with the cells in serum. MEL-L might prove a remarkable non-viral vector for gene transfection and gene therapy.

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