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Efficient gene delivery by sonoporation Is associated with microbubble entry into cells and the clathrin-dependent endocytosis pathway

Abstract : Microbubble oscillation at specific ultrasound settings leads to permeabilization of surrounding cells. This phenomenon, referred to as sonoporation, allows for the in vitro and in vivo delivery of extracellular molecules, including plasmid DNA. To date, the biological and physical mechanisms underlying this phenomenon are not fully understood. The aim of this study was to investigate the interactions between microbubbles and cells, as well as the intracellular routing of plasmid DNA and microbubbles, during and after sonoporation. High-speed imaging and fluorescence confocal microscopy of HeLa cells stably expressing enhanced green fluorescent protein fused with markers of cellular compartments were used for this investigation. Soft-shelled microbubbles were observed to enter cells during sonoporation using experimental parameters that led to optimal gene transfer. They interacted with the plasma membrane in a specific area stained with fluorescent cholera subunit B, a marker of lipid rafts. This process was not observed with hard-shelled microbubbles, which were not efficient in gene delivery under our conditions. The plasmid DNA was delivered to late endosomes after 3 h post-sonoporation, and a few were found in the nucleus after 6 h. Gene transfer efficacy was greatly inhibited when cells were treated with chlorpromazine, an inhibitor of the clathrin-dependent endocytosis pathway. In contrast, no significant alteration was observed when cells were treated with filipin III or genistein, both inhibitors of the caveolin-dependent pathway. This study emphasizes that microbubble-cell interactions do not occur randomly during sonoporation ; microbubble penetration inside cells affects the efficacy of gene transfer at specific ultrasound settings ; and plasmid DNA uptake is an active mechanism that involves the clathrin-dependent pathway.
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Contributor : Michiel Postema <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, April 14, 2021 - 9:47:09 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, April 22, 2021 - 8:50:04 PM


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Anthony Delalande, Chloe Leduc, Patrick Midoux, Michiel Postema, Chantal Pichon. Efficient gene delivery by sonoporation Is associated with microbubble entry into cells and the clathrin-dependent endocytosis pathway. Ultrasound in Medicine & Biology, Elsevier, 2015, 41 (7), pp.1913-1926. ⟨10.1016/j.ultrasmedbio.2015.03.010⟩. ⟨hal-03198520⟩



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