The signal-mediated import of plasmid DNA (pDNA) into nondividing mammalian cell nuclei is one of the key biological obstacles to nonviral therapeutic pDNA delivery. Overcoming this barrier to pDNA transfer is thus an important fundamental objective in gene therapy. Here, we outline the rationale behind current and future strategies for signal-mediated pDNA nuclear import. Results obtained from studies of the nuclear delivery of pDNA coupled to experimentally defined nuclear localisation signal (NLS) peptides, in conjunction with detergent-permeabilised reconstitution cell assays, direct intracellular microinjection, cell-based transfection, and a limited number of in vivo experiments are discussed. © 2003 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
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