Insights on the intracellular trafficking of PDMAEMA gene therapy vectors

Diogo B. Bitoque, Ana M. Rosa da Costa, Gabriela A. Silva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


It is known that an efficient gene therapy vector must overcome several steps to be able to express the gene of interest: (I) enter the cell by crossing the cell membrane; (II) escape the endo-lysosomal degradation pathway; (III) release the genetic material; (IV) traffic through the cytoplasm and enter the nucleus; and last (V), enable gene expression to synthetize the protein of interest. In recent years, we and others have demonstrated the potential of poly(2‑(N,N′‑dimethylamino)ethylmethacrylate) (PDMAEMA) as a gene therapy vehicle. Further optimization of gene transfer efficiency requires the understanding of the intracellular pathway of PDMAEMA. Therefore the goal of this study was to determine the cellular entry and intracellular trafficking mechanisms of our PDMAEMA vectors and determine the gene transfer bottleneck. For this, we have produced rhodamine-labeled PDMAEMA polyplexes that were used to transfect retinal cells and the cellular localization determined by co-localization with cellular markers. Our vectors quickly and efficiently cross the cell membrane, and escape the endo-lysosomal system by 24 h. We have observed the PDMAEMA vectors to concentrate around the nucleus, and the DNA load to be released in the first 24 h after transfection. These results allow us to conclude that although the endo-lysosomal system is an important obstacle, PDMAEMA gene vectors can overcome it. The nuclear membrane, however, constitutes the bottleneck to PDMAEMA gene transfer ability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-288
Number of pages12
JournalMaterials Science and Engineering C
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


  • Gene therapy
  • Gene transfer
  • Vector trafficking


Dive into the research topics of 'Insights on the intracellular trafficking of PDMAEMA gene therapy vectors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this