Redirecting Vesicular Transport to Improve Nonviral Delivery of Molecular Cargo

Adv Biosyst. 2020 Aug;4(8):e2000059. doi: 10.1002/adbi.202000059. Epub 2020 Jul 21.


Cell engineering relies heavily on viral vectors for the delivery of molecular cargo into cells due to their superior efficiency compared to nonviral ones. However, viruses are immunogenic and expensive to manufacture, and have limited delivery capacity. Nonviral delivery approaches avoid these limitations but are currently inefficient for clinical applications. This work demonstrates that the efficiency of nonviral delivery of plasmid DNA, mRNA, Sleeping Beauty transposon, and ribonucleoprotein can be significantly enhanced through pretreatment of cells with the nondegradable sugars (NDS), such as sucrose, trehalose, and raffinose. The enhancement is mediated by the incorporation of the NDS into cell membranes, causing enlargement of lysosomes and formation of large (>500 nm) amphisome-like bodies (ALBs). The changes in subcellular structures redirect transport of cargo to ALBs rather than to lysosomes, reducing cargo degradation in cells. The data indicate that pretreatment of cells with NDS is a promising approach to improve nonviral cargo delivery in biomedical applications.

Keywords: electroporation; gene delivery; genome editing; lysosomal degradation; vesicle trafficking.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biological Transport
  • CRISPR-Cas Systems
  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods*
  • Electroporation
  • Genetic Therapy / methods*
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Lysosomes / drug effects
  • Lysosomes / metabolism
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / genetics
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / metabolism
  • Plasmids / chemistry
  • Plasmids / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • RNA, Small Interfering / metabolism
  • Raffinose / pharmacology*
  • Ribonucleoproteins / genetics
  • Ribonucleoproteins / metabolism
  • Sucrose / pharmacology*
  • Trehalose / pharmacology*


  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • MAP1LC3A protein, human
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Ribonucleoproteins
  • Sucrose
  • Trehalose
  • Raffinose