Poly-L-glutamate, an anionic polymer, enhances transgene expression for plasmids delivered by intramuscular injection with in vivo electroporation

Gene Ther. 2002 Oct;9(20):1351-8. doi: 10.1038/sj.gt.3301806.


Intramuscular (i.m.) injection of plasmids followed by electropermeabilization is an efficient process to deliver genes into skeletal myofibers that permits proteins to be produced and secreted at therapeutically relevant levels. To further improve skeletal muscle as a bioreactor, we identified a formulation that elevates transgene expression in myofibers after i.m. injection and electroporation. With secreted placental alkaline phosphate (SEAP) as reporter gene, plasmid formulated with poly-L-glutamate produced two- to eight-fold higher levels of SEAP in mouse serum than plasmid in saline. Various concentrations and molecular weights of poly-L-glutamate were similarly effective, but 6 mg/ml of 15-50 kDa poly-L-glutamate consistently yielded the highest expression levels. The poly-L-glutamate formulation was effective in two different muscle groups in mice at various plasmid doses for several transgenes, including an erythropoietin (EPO) gene, for which expression was elevated four- to 12-fold in comparison to animals that received EPO plasmid in saline. Transgene expression was localized to myofibers. Poly-L-glutamate may improve transgene expression in part by increasing plasmid retention in skeletal muscle. Poly-L-glutamate did not enhance gene transfer in the absence of electroporation. Therefore, the polymer is a novel formulation that specifically enhances the transfer and expression of genes delivered with electroporation.

MeSH terms

  • Alkaline Phosphatase / genetics
  • Animals
  • DNA / analysis
  • Electroporation / methods*
  • Erythropoietin / analysis
  • Erythropoietin / genetics
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Genetic Therapy / methods*
  • Hindlimb
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intramuscular
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Plasmids / administration & dosage*
  • Polyglutamic Acid*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Regression Analysis
  • Transgenes


  • Erythropoietin
  • Polyglutamic Acid
  • DNA
  • Alkaline Phosphatase