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  • Open Access

Higly fusogenic cationic liposomes transiently permeabilize the plasma membrane of HeLa cells

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Cellular & Molecular Biology LettersAn International Journal200612:49

  • Received: 3 January 2006
  • Accepted: 9 August 2006
  • Published:


Cationic liposomes can efficiently carry nucleic acids into mammalian cells. This property is tightly connected with their ability to fuse with negatively charged natural membranes (i.e. the plasma membrane and endosomal membrane). We used FRET to monitor and compare the efficiency of lipid mixing of two liposomal preparations — one of short-chained diC14-amidine and one of long-chained unsaturated DOTAP — with the plasma membrane of HeLa cells. The diC14-amidine liposomes displayed a much higher susceptibility to lipid mixing with the target membranes. They disrupted the membrane integrity of the HeLa cells, as detected using the propidium iodide permeabilization test. Morphological changes were transient and essentially did not affect the viability of the HeLa cells. The diC14-amidine liposomes were much more effective at either inducing lipid mixing or facilitating transfection.

Key words

  • Cationic liposomes
  • Fusion
  • Transfection
  • Plasma membrane integrity