Polyethyleneimine as a transmembrane carrier of fluorescently labeled proteins and antibodies

Anal Biochem. 2005 Sep 15;344(2):168-73. doi: 10.1016/j.ab.2005.06.011.


Polyethyleneimine (PEI) has been used previously as a nonviral DNA transfer vector. In this article, we demonstrate its use as a vehicle for transmembrane delivery of proteins in cell culture conditions. Linking proteins to PEI required no other treatment beyond mixing them with PEI. The bond between PEI and protein combined at optimal ratios was maintained in electrophoresis, even in the presence of 2.5% sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS). The optimal time for delivery of proteins was determined to be 24 h. We have successfully delivered an Alexa 488-labeled avidin protein into human glioblastoma cells. A functional antibody against the nuclear protein lamin was delivered into human fibroblasts and reacted with lamin inside live cells. PEI-based delivery of antibodies and fluorescently labeled proteins can be used for fluorescent detection, tracking, and evaluation of cellular protein function in vivo.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Avidin / chemistry
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Electrophoresis, Agar Gel / methods
  • Fibroblasts
  • Fluorescent Dyes / chemistry
  • Glioblastoma
  • Humans
  • Hydrazines / chemistry
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lamin Type A / immunology
  • Male
  • Polyethyleneimine / chemistry*
  • Protein Transport*
  • Transfection / methods*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Alexa 488 hydrazide
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Hydrazines
  • Lamin Type A
  • lamin C
  • Avidin
  • Polyethyleneimine