Chemistry and physics of lipids

Interactions of DNA with giant liposomes.

PMID 10810930


DNA interactions with the bilayers of cationic liposomes were studied using a novel model experiment: DNAs were locally injected by a micropipette to a part of a giant unilamellar vesicle. The resulting phenomena were directly observed in optical microscope. Giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs), about 100 microm in diameter, made of phosphatidylcholines and up to 33 mol% of the natural bioactive cationic amphiphile sphingosine, were obtained by electroformation. The effects of DNAs of different length were tested: (i) 'short' DNAs-oligonucleotide 21b, and calf thymus 250 bp; (ii) 'long' DNAs-plasmid DNAs in super coil or liner form (between 2.7 and 8.0 kbp). DNAs were injected native, as well as marked with the fluorescent dye Hoechst. The resulting membrane topology transformations were monitored in phase contrast, while the DNA distribution was followed in fluorescence. DNA-induced endocytosis was observed due to the DNA/lipid membrane local interactions for all DNAs tested. Some of the DNA in the formed complex was associated with the induced endosomes, and some of it remained spread over the 'mother' GUV membrane for all DNAs tested, except for the longest one--the linear plasmid of 8 kbp. The last remained at the 'mother' GUV membrane and was not transported with the induced endosomes to the internal GUV space. Possible mechanisms for DNA/lipid membrane interaction were suggested. One of them involves DNA encapsulation within an inverted micelle included in the lipid membrane. The model observations could help in understanding events associated with interaction of DNA with biological membranes, as well as cationic liposomes/DNA complexes formation in gene transfer processes.