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Bacterial magnetic particles-polyethylenimine vectors deliver target genes into multiple cell types with a high efficiency and low toxicity

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Bacterial magnetic particles (BMPs) are biosynthesized magnetic nano-scale materials with excellent dispersibility and biomembrane enclosure properties. In this study, we demonstrate that BMPs augment the ability of polyethylenimine (PEI) to deliver target DNA into difficult-to-transfect primary porcine liver cells, with transfection efficiency reaching over 30%. Compared with standard lipofection and polyfection, BMP-PEI gene vectors significantly enhanced the transfection efficiencies for the primary porcine liver cells and C2C12 mouse myoblast cell lines. To better understand the mechanism of magnetofection using BMP-PEI/DNA vectors, transmission electron microscopy (TEM) images of transfected Cos-7, HeLa, and HEP-G2 cells were observed. We found that the BMP-PEI/DNA complexes were trafficked into the cytoplasm and nucleus by way of vesicular transport and endocytosis. Our study builds support for the versatile BMP-PEI vector transfection system, which might be exploited to transfect a wide range of cell types or even to reach specific targets in the treatment of disease.

Key Points

• We constructed a BMP-PEI gene delivery vector by combining BMPs and PEI.

• The vector significantly enhanced transfection efficiencies in eukaryotic cell lines.

• The transfection mechanism of this vector was explained in our study.

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We thank Professor Ning Li (China Agricultural University) for his assistance with cell culture.


This work was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2018YFD0500402) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No.31790414 and No. 31772572).

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Authors and Affiliations



W.Y and M. F conceived the study design. W. Y conducted the experiments and wrote the paper. Y.B., K.W., X.D., and Y.L. helped prepare the materials. Q.T. took part in performing the experiments. Q.T., Y.L. and M. F refined the manuscript. All the authors discussed the results and improved the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Meiying Fang.

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The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

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All animals received human care and all procedures were approved by the institutional animal care and use committee.

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Yang, W., Tang, Q., Bai, Y. et al. Bacterial magnetic particles-polyethylenimine vectors deliver target genes into multiple cell types with a high efficiency and low toxicity. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 104, 6799–6812 (2020).

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