Simplified lentivirus vector production in protein-free media using polyethylenimine-mediated transfection

J Virol Methods. 2009 May;157(2):113-21. doi: 10.1016/j.jviromet.2008.11.021. Epub 2009 Jan 20.


During the past 12 years, lentiviral vectors have emerged as valuable tools for transgene delivery because of their ability to transduce nondividing cells and their capacity to sustain long-term transgene expression. Despite significant progress, the production of high-titer high-quality lentiviral vectors is cumbersome and costly. The most commonly used method to produce lentiviral vectors involves transient transfection using calcium phosphate (CaP)-mediated precipitation of plasmid DNAs. However, inconsistencies in pH can cause significant batch-to-batch variations in lentiviral vector titers, making this method unreliable. This study describes optimized protocols for lentiviral vector production based on polyethylenimine (PEI)-mediated transfection, resulting in more consistent lentiviral vector stocks. To achieve this goal, simple production methods for high-titer lentiviral vector production involving transfection of HEK 293T cells immediately after plating were developed. Importantly, high titers were obtained with cell culture media lacking serum or other protein additives altogether. As a consequence, large-scale lentiviral vector stocks can now be generated with fewer batch-to-batch variations and at reduced costs and with less labor compared to the standard protocols.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line
  • Culture Media, Serum-Free
  • Genetic Vectors*
  • Humans
  • Lentivirus / genetics
  • Lentivirus / growth & development*
  • Polyethyleneimine / metabolism
  • Transfection / methods*


  • Culture Media, Serum-Free
  • Polyethyleneimine