Cationic polymers for non-viral gene delivery to human T cells

Brynn R. Olden, Yilong Cheng, Jonathan L. Yu, Suzie H. Pun

Journal of Controlled Release, Volume 282, 28 July 2018, Pages 140-147


The clinical success of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell immunotherapy in treating multiple blood cancers has created a need for efficient methods of ex vivo gene delivery to primary human T cells for cell engineering. Here, we synthesize and evaluate a panel of cationic polymers for gene delivery to both cultured and primary human T cells. We show that a subset of comb- and sunflower-shaped pHEMA-g-pDMAEMA polymers can mediate transfection with efficiencies up to 50% in the Jurkat human T cell line with minimal concomitant toxicity (>90% viability). We then optimize primary human T cell transfection conditions including activation time, cell density, DNA dose, culture media, and cytokine treatment. We demonstrate transfection of both CD4+ and CD8+ primary human T cells with messenger RNA and plasmid DNA at efficiencies up to 25 and 18%, respectively, with similarly high viability.