, Volume 246, Issue 10, pp 737-744
Date: 24 Mar 2013

Cell-Specific Targeting Strategies for Electroporation-Mediated Gene Delivery in Cells and Animals

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Abstract

The use of electroporation to facilitate gene transfer is an extremely powerful and useful method for both in vitro and in vivo applications. One of its great strengths is that it induces functional destabilization and permeabilization of cell membranes throughout a tissue leading to widespread gene transfer to multiple cells and cell types within the electric field. While this is a strength, it can also be a limitation in terms of cell-specific gene delivery. The ability to restrict gene delivery and expression to particular cell types is of paramount importance for many types of gene therapy, since ectopic expression of a transgene could lead to deleterious host inflammatory responses or dysregulation of normal cellular functions. At present, there are relatively few ways to obtain cell-specific targeting of nonviral vectors, molecular probes, small molecules, and imaging agents. We have developed a novel means of restricting gene delivery to desired cell types based on the ability to control the transport of plasmids into the nuclei of desired cell types. In this article, we discuss the mechanisms of this approach and several applications in living animals to demonstrate the benefits of the combination of electroporation and selective nuclear import of plasmids for cell-specific gene delivery.