Back to basics: Optimization of DNA and RNA transfer in muscle cells using recent transfection reagents

Exp Cell Res. 2022 Dec 15;421(2):113392. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2022.113392. Epub 2022 Oct 20.


C2C12 cells are widely used in the muscle field, as they differentiate easily into myotubes and show limited constraints to culture as compared to primary myoblasts. Both C2C12 and primary myoblasts are hard to transfect, which affects downstream experiments. More than 95% of the reports published since 2015 with C2C12 cells have used one gold standard transfectant (i.e., Lipofectamine®), although several studies have suggested less than 30% efficiency of this reagent. In parallel, the capacity of other commercial reagents to transfect muscle cells remains largely unknown. Here, we compared transfection efficiency of five commercial reagents (Lipofectamine® 3000, Viafect™, Fugene® HD, C2C12 Cell Avalanche®, and JetOPTIMUS®) in C2C12 cells. By optimizing DNA:transfectant ratios and cell density, all reagents reached more than 60% transfection efficiency with limited effects on cell growth and viability. GFP-positive myotubes were efficiently generated in cultures transfected with Lipofectamine® 3000, Fugene® HD, C2C12 Cell Avalanche®, and JetOPTIMUS®. Notably, in conditions optimized for DNA transfer in C2C12 cells, these reagents showed low efficiency to transfer siRNA and higher toxicity for primary muscle cells. In conclusion, we reported yet uncharacterized transfection reagents that can serve as a suitable low-cost alternative to the current gold standard in C2C12 cells.

Keywords: C2C12; Differentiation; Myoblast; Transfection; Viability; siRNA.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation
  • DNA* / genetics
  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal*
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • Transfection


  • Indicators and Reagents
  • DNA
  • RNA, Small Interfering