Tuesday 8 February 2005
Transfection is the process of deliberately introducing nucleic acids into cells. The term is used notably for non-viral methods in eukaryotic cells.
It may also refer to other methods and cell types, although other terms are preferred: "transformation" is more often used to describe non-viral DNA transfer in bacteria, non-animal eukaryotic cells and plant cells, a distinctive sense of transformation refers to spontaneous genetic modifications (mutations to cancerous cells (Carcinogenesis), or under stress (UV irradiation)).
"Transduction" is often used to describe virus-mediated DNA transfer. The word transfection is a blend of trans- and infection.
Genetic material (such as supercoiled plasmid DNA or siRNA constructs), or even proteins such as antibodies, may be transfected.
Transfection of animal cells typically involves opening transient pores or "holes" in the cell membrane, to allow the uptake of material.
Transfection can be carried out using calcium phosphate, by electroporation, or by mixing a cationic lipid with the material to produce liposomes, which fuse with the cell membrane and deposit their cargo inside.
Transfection can result in unexpected morphologies and abnormalities in target cells.