Gene transfer into muscle by electroporation in vivo

Nat Biotechnol. 1998 Sep;16(9):867-70. doi: 10.1038/nbt0998-867.


Among the nonviral techniques for gene transfer in vivo, the direct injection of plasmid DNA into muscle is simple, inexpensive, and safe. Applications of this method have been limited by the relatively low expression levels of the transferred gene. We investigated the applicability of in vivo electroporation for gene transfer into muscle, using plasmid DNA expressing interleukin-5 (IL-5) as the vector. The tibialis anterior muscles of mice were injected with the plasmid DNA, and then a pair of electrode needles were inserted into the DNA injection site to deliver electric pulses. Five days later, the serum IL-5 levels were assayed. Mice that did not receive electroporation had serum levels of 0.2 ng/ml. Electroporation enhanced the levels to over 20 ng/ml. Histochemical analysis of muscles injected with a lacZ expression plasmid showed that in vivo electroporation increased both the number of muscle fibers taking up plasmid DNA and the copy number of plasmids introduced into the cells. These results demonstrate that gene transfer into muscle by electroporation in vivo is more efficient than simple intramuscular DNA injection.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bupivacaine / pharmacology
  • DNA / administration & dosage
  • Electroporation
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Gene Transfer Techniques*
  • Injections, Intramuscular
  • Interleukin-5 / genetics
  • Lac Operon
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Muscles / metabolism*
  • Plasmids


  • Interleukin-5
  • DNA
  • Bupivacaine