Sustained gene transfer and enhanced cell death following glucosylated-PEI-mediated p53 gene transfer with photochemical internalisation in p53-mutated head and neck carcinoma cells

Int J Oncol. 2004 Dec;25(6):1575-81.


p53 is frequently mutated in head-and-neck squamous cell carcinoma. Wild-type p53 gene transfer induces apoptosis in vitro and tumor regression in vivo and clinical investigations of p53 gene therapy have been reported, mostly using viral vectors. Non-viral vectors are increasingly being used as an alternative to viral vectors and photochemical internalisation (PCI) of non-viral vectors has been reported to yield high gene transfer efficiency. The p53-mutated status of FaDu human pharynx carcinoma cell line was first assessed by DNA sequencing and the cells were transfected using tetraglucosylated polyethylenimine (PEI-Glu4) in conjunction with photochemical internalisation (PCI). The green fluorescent protein (GFP) was used as a reporter for determination of the transgene expression kinetics with or without PCI. p53 gene transfer was performed in these optimised conditions, and subsequent induction of apoptosis was investigated by flow cytometric determination of the phosphatidylserine externalization. Long-term cell death was assessed using colony forming assays. DNA sequencing in FaDu cells showed a G/T point mutation at codon 248 in exon 7 of p53 gene, resulting in an arginine-to-leucine substitution. As a consequence, P53 was shown to be expressed in >90% of untreated cells using immunocytochemistry. Using PEI-Glu4 as vector, PCI was found to significantly enhance GFP gene transfer whatever the formulation solution. Transfection efficiency was significantly increased with PCI. GFP expression kinetics (24-144 h) demonstrates that PCI induces sustained transgene expression with >10% of cells remaining transfected after 144 h. In such conditions, p53 gene transfer using PEI-Glu4 and PCI, resulted in spontaneous induction of apoptosis. As a consequence, long-term cell death was significantly enhanced after wt-p53 gene transfer when PCI was used, reaching up to 50% cell death. Wild-type p53 gene transfer using PEI-Glu4/DNA complexes and PCI, yields sustained transgene expression and induces cell death in p53-mutated FaDu cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology*
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Gene Transfer Techniques*
  • Genes, p53*
  • Genetic Therapy
  • Humans
  • Pharyngeal Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Pharyngeal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Photochemistry
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Stem Cells
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured