Transfection of mammalian cells using linear polyethylenimine is a simple and effective means of producing recombinant adeno-associated virus vectors

J Virol Methods. 2006 Dec;138(1-2):85-98. doi: 10.1016/j.jviromet.2006.07.024. Epub 2006 Sep 6.


We have developed a simple protocol to transfect mammalian cells using linear polyethylenimine (PEI). Our linear PEI protocol is as effective as commercial reagents in the transfection of HeLa cells and XDC293 cells, a derivative of HEK293 cells, but at a fraction of the cost. Greater than 90% of XDC293 cells and 98% of HeLa cells transfected using our method were positive for EGFP expression as determined by flow cytometery. Our protocol should be useful for many different applications such as large-scale production of recombinant protein and viruses, which requires transient transfection of mammalian cells in large batches. We have used this protocol to produce recombinant adeno-associated virus (AAV) in XDC293 cells and in HeLa cells. This requires transient expression of three adenovirus gene-products (E2A, E4orf6, and VA RNAs) as well as the AAV replication (Rep78, Rep68, Rep52, and Rep40) and capsid (VP1, VP2, and VP3) proteins. Production of a recombinant AAV that expresses green fluorescent protein was assessed by quantitative PCR and by transduction of HeLa cells. Linear PEI is a better transfection reagent than calcium phosphate for the production of recombinant AAV in both HEK293 and HeLa cells. In addition, when both HeLa and XDC293 cells were by our method, HeLa cells in the absence of E1A generated three-fold more recombinant AAV than XDC293 cells, which constitutively express E1A.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line
  • DNA, Viral / analysis
  • Dependovirus / genetics*
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Genetic Vectors*
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Humans
  • Polyethyleneimine*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Recombination, Genetic*
  • Transfection / methods*


  • DNA, Viral
  • enhanced green fluorescent protein
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Polyethyleneimine