Light-directed delivery of nucleic acids

Methods Mol Biol. 2011;764:107-21. doi: 10.1007/978-1-61779-188-8_7.


A major barrier within the field of non-viral gene therapy toward therapeutic strategies, e.g., tumor therapy, has been lack of appropriate specific delivery strategies to the intended target tissues or cells. In this chapter, we describe a protocol for light-directed delivery of nucleic acids through the use of photochemical internalization (PCI) technology. PCI is based on a photosensitizing compound that localizes to endocytic membranes. Upon illumination, the photosensitizing compound induces damage to the endocytic membranes, resulting in release of endocytosed material, i.e., nucleic acids into cytosol. The main benefit of the strategy described is the possibility for site-specific delivery of nucleic acids to a place of interest.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cytosol / metabolism
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods*
  • Endocytosis / drug effects
  • Endosomes / drug effects
  • Endosomes / metabolism*
  • Genetic Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Light
  • Nucleic Acids / chemistry
  • Nucleic Acids / metabolism
  • Nucleic Acids / pharmacology*
  • Osteosarcoma / drug therapy*
  • Osteosarcoma / pathology
  • Photochemotherapy / methods*
  • Photosensitizing Agents / chemistry
  • Photosensitizing Agents / metabolism*
  • Singlet Oxygen
  • Transfection


  • Nucleic Acids
  • Photosensitizing Agents
  • Singlet Oxygen