Nanoscale characterization coupled to multi-parametric optimization of Hi5 cell transient gene expression

Eduard Puente-Massaguer, Martí Lecina, Francesc Gòdia

Research output: Indexed journal article Articlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Polyethylenimine (PEI)-based transient gene expression (TGE) is nowadays a well-established methodology for rapid protein production in mammalian cells, but it has been used to a much lower extent in insect cell lines. A fast and robust TGE methodology for suspension Hi5 (Trichoplusia ni) cells is presented. Significant differences in size and morphology of DNA:PEI polyplexes were observed in the different incubation solutions tested. Moreover, minimal complexing time (< 1 min) between DNA and PEI in 150 mM NaCl solution provided the highest transfection efficiency. Nanoscopic characterization by means of cryo-EM revealed that DNA:PEI polyplexes up to 300–400 nm were the most efficient for transfection. TGE optimization was performed using eGFP as model protein by means of the combination of advanced statistical designs. A global optimal condition of 1.5 × 106 cell/mL, 2.1 μg/mL of DNA, and 9.3 μg/mL PEI was achieved through weighted-based optimization of transfection, production, and viability responses. Under these conditions, a 60% transfection and 0.8 μg/106 transfected cell·day specific productivity were achieved. The TGE protocol developed for Hi5 cells provides a promising baculovirus-free and worthwhile approach to produce a wide variety of recombinant proteins in a short period of time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10495-10510
Number of pages16
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


  • Cryo-electron microscopy
  • Design of experiments
  • Dynamic light scattering
  • High Five cells
  • Polyethylenimine
  • Transient gene expression


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