Gene Transfer Function & Application
Gene Transfer, also known as horizontal gene transfer, is the process of inserting a specific coding sequence into a cell, either as a plasmid or as a genomic insert. This Gene Editing technique aims to induce the synthesis of the target protein in the cell for later analysis or, for example, for therapeutic purposes.
Transformation - if the target is a non-animal cell.
Bacteria transformation is a staple technique in cell biology labs, used for cloning or protein expression. Transformation protocols rely on transforming bacterial cells into competent cells via chemical plasmid transformation or electroporation, with dedicated kits for both.
While chemical transformation is very cost-effective, electroporation can reach have high transformation efficiency. Keep in mind that electroporators can be used for other cells, such as plant cells, which might justify the investments.
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Transfection & Transduction
Transfection - when a non-viral transfer method is used for genetic transfer.
Transduction - when a viral vector is used for genetic transfer.
The term “transfection” is mostly used for describing the insertion of nucleic acids into a cell by non-viral methods. The process is often carried out by electroporation, cell squeezing, or via chemical methods like calcium phosphate exposure that opens transient holes in cell membranes allowing target nucleic acids to enter into the cells. Sometimes liposomes are used to allow the membrane to be crossed without any permanent damage to the cell.
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For mammalian cells, the main factor to consider is cell type. There are different kits on the market optimizing the transfection or transduction process for specific cells types. Also, keep in mind that different kits can result in different expression levels. This is particularly important if your experimental set-up includes a phenotypical analysis with a range of expression levels of your protein, or if you expect a cytotoxic effect.
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Moreover, if you want to transfer miRNA or siRNA instead of DNA, be sure to use a kit that specifically does that. In particular, it is possible to transduce purified siRNA with physical methods, without the use of vectors.