Evaluating Electroporation and Lipofectamine Approaches for Transient and Stable Transgene Expressions in Human Fibroblasts and Embryonic Stem Cells

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Molecular Systems Biology, Cell Science Research Center, Royan Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Technology, ACECR, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of Stem Cells and Developmental Biology, Cell Science Research Center, Royan Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Technology, ACECR, Tehran, Iran


Genetic modification of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) is critical for their extensive use as a fundamental tool for cell therapy and basic research. Despite the fact that various methods such as lipofection and electroporation have been applied to transfer the gene of interest (GOI) into the target cell line, however, there are few re- ports that compare all parameters, which influence transfection efficiency. In this study, we examine all parameters that affect the efficiency of electroporation and lipofection for transient and long-term gene expression in three different cell lines to introduce the best method and determinant factor.
Materials and Methods
In this experimental study, both electroporation and lipofection approaches were employed for genetic modification. pCAG-EGFP was applied for tran- sient expression of green fluorescent protein in two genetically different hESC lines, Roy- an H5 (XX) and Royan H6 (XY), as well as human foreskin fibroblasts (hFF). For long-term EGFP expression VASA and OLIG2 promoters (germ cell and motoneuron specific genes, respectively), were isolated and subsequently cloned into a pBluMAR5 plasmid backbone to drive EGFP expression. Flow cytometry analysis was performed two days after trans- fection to determine transient expression efficiency. Differentiation of drug resistant hESC colonies toward primordial germ cells (PGCs) was conducted to confirm stable integration of the transgene.
Transient and stable expression suggested a variable potential for different cell lines against transfection. Analysis of parameters that influenced gene transformation ef- ficiency revealed that the vector concentrations from 20-60 μg and the density of the sub- jected cells (5×105and 1×106cells) were not as effective as the genetic background and voltage rate. The present data indicated that in contrast to the circular form, the linearized vector generated more distinctive drug resistant colonies.
Electroporation was an efficient tool for genetic engineering of hESCs compared to the chemical method. The genetic background of the subjected cell line for transfection seemed to be a fundamental factor in each gene delivery method. For each cell line, optimum voltage rate should be calculated as it has been shown to play a crucial role in cell death and rate of gene delivery.