Synthetic gene transfer vectors based on polyplexes complexed to anionic liposomes (LPDII vectors) were characterized for their transfection efficiency in cultured mammalian cells. The effects of polycation to DNA ratio, lipid to DNA ratio, choice of polycation and lipid composition were systematically evaluated in human oral carcinoma KB cells, using a luciferase reporter gene. For LPDII formulations containing poly-L-lysine and dioeoylphosphatidylethanolamine/cholesteryl hemisuccinate (DOPE/CHEMS) anionic liposomes, at a constant lipid to DNA ratio, an increase in the polycation/DNA (N/P) ratio resulted in an increase in transfection activity. Meanwhile, the optimal lipid to DNA ratio for efficient gene delivery was influenced by the N/P ratio used, and was increased at higher N/P ratios. For the DNA condensing agent, poly-L-lysine could be replaced by polyethylenimine (PEI) as the DNA condensing agent in the formulations. For the lipidic components, CHEMS could be replaced by other anioniclipids including oleic acid, dicetylphosphate and phosphatidylserine, but DOPE, a fusogenic helper lipid, could not be replaced by dioleolyphosphatidylcholine. LPDII formulation showed significantly less cytotoxicity compared to the commonly used cationic lipsomes or PEI mediated transfection and several cell lines were transfected with high efficiency. LPDII vectors avoid the use of toxic cationic lipids and may have potential application in gene therapy.

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