High transfection efficiency, gene expression, and viability of monocyte-derived human dendritic cells after nonviral gene transfer

Landi A, Babiuk LA, van Drunen Littel-van den Hurk S
Source: J Leukoc Biol
Publication Date: (2007)
Issue: 82(4): 849-60
Research Area:
Immunotherapy / Hematology
Cells used in publication:
Dendritic cell (NHDC), human
Species: human
Tissue Origin: blood
Nucleofector® I/II/2b
Dendritic cells (DCs) are bone marrow-originated, professional antigen-capturing cells and APCs, which can function as vaccine carriers. Although efficient transfection of human DCs has been achieved with viral vectors, viral gene products may influence cellular functions. In contrast, nonviral methods have generally resulted in inefficient gene transfer, low levels of gene expression, and/or low cell viability. Monocyte-derived DCs are the most common source of DCs for in vitro studies and for in vivo applications. We hypothesized that reduction of the time to generate immature DCs (iDCs) might result in higher viability after transfection. Therefore, we established a protocol to generate human iDCs from CD14(+) monocytes within 3 days. These "fast" iDCs were phenotypically and functionally indistinguishable from conventional iDCs, showing high endocytic ability and low antigen-presenting capacity. Furthermore, the fast iDCs matured normally and had similar antigen-presenting capacity to conventional mature DCs. To optimize transfection of iDCs, we compared nonviral transfection of plasmid DNA and in vitro-transcribed (IVT) RNA with transfection reagents, electroporation, and nucleofection, and nucleofection of IVT RNA with the X1 program of an Amaxa Co. Nucleofector resulted in the most efficient transfection, with an average of 93% transfected iDCs, excellent long-term viability, and strong protein expression. Furthermore, the IVT RNA-transfected iDCs retained all phenotypic and functional characteristics of iDCs. This method is applicable to most purposes, including in vitro functional assays, in vivo DC immunotherapy, and DC-based vaccines.