Poly(glycoamidoamine) vehicles promote pDNA uptake through multiple routes and efficient gene expression via caveolae-mediated endocytosis

Patrick M. McLendon, Katye M. Fichter, Theresa M. Reineke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


The use of synthetic polymers for the delivery of nucleic acids holds considerable promise for understanding and treating disease at the molecular level. This work aims to decipher the cellular internalization mechanisms for a series of synthetic glycopolymer DNA delivery vehicles we have termed poly(glycoamidoamine)s (PGAAs). To this end, we have performed cellular delivery experiments in the presence of pharmacological endocytosis inhibitors. Confocal microscopy analysis showed colocalization of labeled pDNA in polyplexes with immunolabeled endocytic molecules to identify the cellular internalization pathways in HeLa cells. Direct membrane penetration was also investigated through various methods, including cellular energy depletion and leakage of a cytosolic enzyme from the cell. The data suggests that the cellular internalization of PGAA polyplexes occurs through a multifaceted internalization mechanism primarily involving caveolae, yet clathrin-coated vesicles and macropinosomes were also involved to a lesser degree. The primary mechanism that leads to efficient nuclear delivery and transgene expression appears to be caveolae/raft-mediated endocytosis. The cellular internalization pathways for PGAAs were not identical to those for polyethylenimine, illustrating that differences in the chemical structure of materials directly impacts the cellular internalization mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)738-750
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular pharmaceutics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 7 2010


  • Caveolae
  • Clathrin
  • Flow cytometry
  • Membrane disruption
  • Nonviral DNA delivery
  • Transfection


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