Hyaluronic acid (HA), a natural anionic mucopolysaccharide, can be deposited onto the cationic surface of DNA/polyethyleneimine (PEI) complexes to recharge the surface potential and reduce nonspecific interactions with proteins. HA can also be used as a ligand to target specific cell receptors. Furthermore, HA-coating enhanced the transcriptional activity of the plasmid/PEI complexes, probably by loosening the tight binding between DNA and PEI, which facilitated the approach of transcription factors. Amphoteric HA derivative having spermine side chains (Spn-HA) with a structure similar to HMG protein showed higher transcription-enhancing activity than HA. Plasmid/PEI/Spn-HA ternary complex exhibited 29-fold higher transgene expression efficiency than naked plasmid/PEI complexes in CHO cells.
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