Issue 3, 2011

Graphene based gene transfection


Graphene as a star in materials research has been attracting tremendous attentions in the past few years in various fields including biomedicine. In this work, for the first time we successfully use graphene as a non-toxic nano-vehicle for efficient gene transfection. Graphene oxide (GO) is bound with cationic polymers, polyethyleneimine (PEI) with two different molecular weights at 1.2 kDa and 10 kDa, forming GO-PEI-1.2k and GO-PEG-10k complexes, respectively, both of which are stable in physiological solutions. Cellular toxicity tests reveal that our GO-PEI-10k complex exhibits significantly reduced toxicity to the treated cells compared to the bare PEI-10k polymer. The positively charged GO-PEI complexes are able to further bind with plasmid DNA (pDNA) for intracellular transfection of the enhanced green fluorescence protein (EGFP) gene in HeLa cells. While EGFP transfection with PEI-1.2k appears to be ineffective, high EGFP expression is observed using the corresponding GO-PEI-1.2k as the transfection agent. On the other hand, GO-PEI-10k shows similar EGFP transfection efficiency but lower toxicity compared with PEI-10k. Our results suggest graphene to be a novel gene delivery nano-vector with low cytotoxicity and high transfection efficiency, promising for future applications in non-viral based gene therapy.

Graphical abstract: Graphene based gene transfection

Supplementary files

Article information

Article type
15 Sep 2010
23 Nov 2010
First published
27 Jan 2011

Nanoscale, 2011,3, 1252-1257

Graphene based gene transfection

L. Feng, S. Zhang and Z. Liu, Nanoscale, 2011, 3, 1252 DOI: 10.1039/C0NR00680G

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