Highly efficient and safe gene delivery has become an important aspect of neuronal gene therapy. We evaluated the ability of polyamidoamine (PAMAM) dendrimer grafted with phenylalanine, histidine, and arginine (PAMAM-FHR), a nonviral gene delivery vector, to deliver a therapeutic, tumor cell-specific killer gene, apoptin, into the human primary glioma cell line GBL-14 and human dermal fibroblasts. We performed a transfection assay using plasmids of luciferase and enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) and assessed cell viability. Both cell lines were treated with complexes of PAMAM-FHR and apoptin after which their intracellular uptake and localization were examined by fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS)analysis and confocal laser scanning microscopy. Confocal microscopy showed that the PAMAM-FHR escaped from the endo-lysosome into the cytosol. Cell cycle phase distribution analysis, annexin V staining, and a tetramethylrhodamine ethyl ester (TMRE) assay established that apoptin triggered apoptosis in the GBL-14 cell line but not in normal fibroblasts. These results indicated that the PAMAM-FHR/apoptin complex is an effective gene vehicle for cancer therapy in vitro.
Keywords: PAMAM-FHR; apoptin; apoptosis; cancer therapy.