Getting DNA or RNA into cells can be a tricky business, and a variety of transfection reagents have been developed over the years to make the process easier. Lipid-based reagents are especially popular because they combine efficient transfection with relatively low toxicity.
When it comes to transfection, it pays to think small. Human cells range in volume from 20–40 µm3 (sperm cells) to as large as 4 million µm3 (mature egg cells, or oocytes). For several decades, transfection reagents have targeted this size range. However, breakthrough research involves leaving the “micro” realm and entering a world that was once the domain only of science fiction: nanotechnology. Continue reading
Madison, WI is home for Promega, and while it is not a huge city, Madison is home to many biotech companies, fed mostly by the local, world-class University of Wisconsin-Madison. Many scientists and scientist families work, live and play near one another here. It is not uncommon for two scientists from different companies to talk to one another and discover that their respective companies have products or processes that could benefit both companies.
Case in point: Scientists at Promega have a good working relationship with Cellular Dynamics International (CDI), a biotech firm that specializes in differentiated iPSC-derived cells. We want to demonstrate that our assays work in iPSC cells and CDI wants to demonstrate the range of assays that can be performed with their iPSC-derived cells.
Differentiated iPSC cells are as close to primary cells as you can get, and primary cells are notoriously difficult to transfect due to their slow rate of growth and increased propensity for death. CDI reported great success with ViaFect™ Reagent and generously shared their data with us (see image). Continue reading
Transfection can sometimes seem more like an art than a science—the perfect transfection experiment being dependent on optimization of conditions, including cell density, transfection reagent and DNA:reagent ratio. No one reagent is perfect for every cell type, so there is the added challenge of optimizing performance in your cell line of choice—which may fall into the well-populated “difficult-to-transfect” category that includes many primary cells.
Among transfection reagents, Lipofectamine® (Thermofisher), and FuGENE® (Promega) are popular and widely used choices. Viafect™ Transfection Reagent is newer and less well-known, but gaining popularity as a high-performance, low-toxicity reagent that performs well across a wide range of cell lines. In head-to-head comparisons with FuGENE and Lipofectamine, Viafect outperformed or equaled the others for expression of transfected reporter genes and resulting cell viability (see the data in this article).
The story of ViaFect begins with Promega Custom Assay Services (CAS), a group that uses Promega technologies to construct made-to-order assays, typically in a cell line. Many projects from the CAS group involve transfecting cells with expression vectors and reporter vectors. In some instances, customers contact CAS to have an assay constructed in a difficult cell line, after attempting and failing, or experiencing difficulty building the assay themselves.
CAS projects start with a proof-of-concept experiment using transient transfection before moving on to production of a clonal, stable cell line. For difficult cell lines, the CAS group previously turned to electroporation after exhausting lipid-based transfection options. Electroporation often worked, but success came with a price—cytotoxicity. The CAS group challenged R&D to find a better solution—better transfection with low toxicity for difficult-to-use cells. The result of that challenge is the ViaFect™ Transfection Reagent. Continue reading
Not every lab has a tried and true transfection protocol that can be used by all lab members. Few researchers will use the same cell type and same construct to generate data. Many times, a scientist may need to transfect different constructs or even different molecules (e.g., short-interfering RNA [siRNA]) into the same cell line, or test a single construct in different cultured cell lines. One construct could be easily transfected into several different cell lines or a transfection protocol may work for several different constructs. However, some cells like primary cells can be difficult to transfect and some nucleic acids will need to be optimized for successful transfection. Here are some tips that may help you improve your transfection success.
Transfect healthy, actively dividing cells at a consistent cell density. Cells should be at a low passage number and 50–80% confluent when transfected. Using the same cell density reduces variability for replicates. Keep cells Mycoplasma-free to ensure optimal growth.
Transfect using high-quality DNA. Transfection-quality DNA is free from protein, RNA and chemical contamination with an A260/A280 ratio of 1.7–1.9. Prepare purified DNA in sterile water or TE buffer at a final concentration of 0.2–1mg/ml. Continue reading
Many studies, from reporter assays to protein localization to BRET and FRET, require successful transfection first. Yet, transfection can be tricky and difficult. There are many considerations when planning transfection of your cells including reagent selection, stable or transient experiment, type of molecule and endpoint assay used. Here we discuss these considerations to help you plan a successful transfection scheme for your experimental system. Continue reading
Recently, one of my fellow bloggers described some of the advantages of using dual-reporter assays (including our Dual-Luciferase®, Dual-Glo® Luciferase and our new NanoDLR™ assay debuting soon). These assays are relatively easy to understand in principle. Use a primary and secondary reporter vector transiently transfected into your favorite mammalian cell line. The primary reporter is commonly used as a marker for a gene, promoter, or response element of interest. The secondary reporter drives a steady level of expression of a different marker. We can use that second marker to normalize the changes in expression of the primary under the assumption that the secondary marker is unaffected by what is being experimentally manipulated.
While there are many advantages to dual-reporter assays, they require careful planning to avoid common pitfalls. Here’s what you can do to avoid repeating some of the common mistakes we see with new users: Continue reading
This review is a guest blog by Amy Landreman, Product Specialist in Cellular Analysis at Promega Corporation.
Lentiviral vectors (LVV) have become a valuable research tool for delivering genetic content into a wide range of cell types. Commonly derived from the HIV-1 genome, LVV have the advantage of being able to infect both dividing and non-dividing cells. They can be particularly valuable for introducing genetic material into cell lines that are difficult to transfect using other methods and are also being used in gene therapy applications.
Unlike other gene delivery tools, transducing mammalian cells with LVV requires significant upfront effort since the LVV particles carrying the desired genetic content first need to be created. In general this involves co-transfecting a packaging cell line, such as HEK293T, with a set of three to four separate plasmids that encode the protein content required to generate the LVV particles: the transfer plasmid, which contains the transgene of interest, a packaging plasmid, and an envelope plasmid. After co-transfection, the packaging cell line is allowed to incubate for a couple of days during which time the LVV particles are produced and accumulating in the culture supernatant. The supernatant containing the recombinant LVV is then harvested and, following several concentration steps, the LVV particles are ready to be used for introducing the desired genetic content into the mammalian target cells. Continue reading
Transfection, like many techniques in the lab, can be an art, especially for stubborn cell lines. To maximize transfection efficiency, you must have the right conditions and, for some cell lines it seems, the right touch. If you’re lucky, you are working with less finicky cells that transfect well regardless of conditions. If you’re not so lucky, you might want to spend a few minutes reading through this list of ways that you can improve your transfection results.