Nucleofection is a valuable transfection method for transient and stable transgene expression in adipose tissue-derived stem cells

Stem Cells. 2007 Mar;25(3):790-7. doi: 10.1634/stemcells.2006-0235. Epub 2006 Dec 7.


Adipose tissue-derived stem cells are a powerful tool for in vitro study of adult stem cell biology. So far, they have not been extensively used for gain or loss of function studies since they are resistant to most common transfection methods. Herein, we tested several classic transfection methods on human multipotent adipose tissue-derived stem (hMADS) cells. Our results showed that lipofectants and calcium phosphate were poorly efficient for transgene delivery in hMADS cells. In contrast, nucleofection, an electroporation-based method that is assumed to target plasmid DNA directly to the cell nucleus, led to a significant transient transgene expression in hMADS cells (up to 76% enhanced green fluorescent protein [EGFP]-positive cells were detected). Furthermore, after selection of hMADS cells that were nucleofected with a selectable plasmid coding for EGFP, stable EGFP expressing clones could be propagated in culture and efficiently induced to differentiate into EGFP-positive adipocytes and osteoblasts. Finally, we verified that nucleofected hMADS cells could produce a functional, transgene-encoded, secreted protein. To this aim, hMADS cells were nucleofected with a plasmid coding for leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF). This protein was detected at high concentrations in supernatants from pCAG-LIF transfected hMADS cells. Moreover, supernatants were able to maintain mouse embryonic stem cells' undifferentiated phenotype, indicating that hMADS cells could secrete a functional LIF protein. Taken together, our data demonstrate that nucleofection allows both transient and stable gene expression in adipose tissue-derived stem cells, without impairing their differentiation potential.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / cytology*
  • Adipose Tissue / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • DNA Primers
  • Electroporation / methods
  • Gene Transfer Techniques*
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Humans
  • MADS Domain Proteins / genetics
  • Mice
  • Osteogenesis
  • Plasmids
  • Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Transfection / methods*


  • DNA Primers
  • MADS Domain Proteins
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins