Journal of medicinal chemistry

Efficient synthesis and cell-transfection properties of a new multivalent cationic lipid for nonviral gene delivery.

PMID 12408712


Lipid-mediated delivery of DNA into cells holds great promise both for gene therapy and basic research applications. This paper describes the efficient and facile synthesis and the characterization of a new multivalent cationic lipid with a double-branched headgroup structure for gene delivery applications. The synthetic scheme can be extended to give cationic lipids of different charge, spacer, or lipid chain length. The chemical and physical properties of self-assembled complexes of the cationic liposomes (CLs) with DNA give indications of why multivalent cationic lipids possess superior transfection properties. The lipid bears a headgroup with five charges in the fully protonated state, which is attached to an unsaturated double-chain hydrophobic moiety based on 3,4-dihydroxybenzoic acid. Liposomes consisting of the new multivalent lipid and the neutral lipid 1,2-dioleoyl-sn-glycerophosphatidylcholine (DOPC) were used to prepare complexes with DNA. Investigations of the structures of these complexes by optical microscopy and small-angle X-ray scattering reveal a lamellar L(alpha)(C) phase of CL-DNA complexes with the DNA molecules sandwiched between bilayers of the lipids. Experiments using plasmid DNA containing the firefly luciferase reporter gene show that these complexes efficiently transfect mammalian cells. When compared to the monovalent cationic lipid 2,3-dioleyloxypropyltrimethylammonium chloride (DOTAP), the higher charge density of the membranes of CL-DNA complexes achievable with the new multivalent lipid greatly increases transfection efficiency in the regime of small molar ratios of cationic to neutral lipid. This is desired to minimize the known toxicity effects of cationic lipids.