When selecting a transfection method, consider the payloadyou wish to deliver (DNA, RNA, or protein) and the type of cellsyou want to transfect. Use the tables below to choose between the various cationic-lipid transfection reagents and the Neon® Transfection System available from Life Technologies™.

We offer options for DNA, siRNA, oligonucleotide, and RNA delivery, giving you more confidence in your results.

  • Superior delivery—transfect a broad range of cell types, including those notoriously difficult to transfect, with high  efficiency
  • Nontoxic performance—you see results due to the presence of your nucleic acid, not the reagent
  • Less optimization—rapid, simple protocols provided for most cell lines

Transfection reagent selection guide

Continuous cell lines are capable of unlimited proliferative potential, and are generally easier to work with than primary or finite cell cultures. However, because these cells have undergone genetic transformation to become immortalized, their behavior in culture may not necessarily reflect the in vivo situation.

Reagent DNA mRNA RNAi Co-
delivery
Easy-to-transfect adherent cells Hard-to-transfect adherent cells Suspension cells
Lipofectamine® 3000
Lipofectamine® RNAiMAX    
NEW Lipofectamine® MessengerMAX™      
Lipofectamine® 2000
Neon® Electroporation
Invivofectamine® 2.0     In vivo delivery to liver following tail vein injection

Primary cells are isolated directly from the tissue and proliferated under appropriate conditions. As such, they are morphologically and physiologically more similar to an in vivo state. However, they are usually more difficult to culture and transfect than continuous cell lines.

After the first subculture, the primary culture becomes known as a cell line. Cell lines derived from primary cultures have a limited life span (i.e., they are finite), and as they are passaged, cells with the highest growth capacity predominate, resulting in a degree of genotypic and phenotypic uniformity in the population. Therefore, their phenotype is intermediate between primary cells and continuous cultures. The use of such cells is sometimes easier than the use of primary cells, especially for the generation of stably transfected clones.

Reagent DNA mRNA RNAi Co-
delivery
Primary Cells Stem Cells
Lipofectamine® 3000
Lipofectamine® RNAiMAX    
NEW Lipofectamine® MessengerMAX™      
Lipofectamine® 2000
Neon® Electroporation
Invivofectamine® 2.0     In vivo delivery to liver following tail vein injection
Symbol Explanation Symbol Explanation
DNA for expression of protein, shRNA, and miRNA mRNA for expression of protein
Non-coding RNA for RNAi inhibition of gene expression Co-delivery for cotransfection of
RNAi vectors and siRNAs

Additional Life Technologies™ transfection reagents

Transfection reagent Key features & applications of reagent
ExpiFectamine® 293 Transfection Kit
  • Designed for transfection of high density suspension cell culture, with matching transfection enhancers that boost transfection performance and protein expression
  • Achieves protein yields 2- to 10-fold higher than other transfection reagents used on high density 293 cell cultures
  • Provides robust and reproducible transfection results
  • Scale transfections for culture volumes of less than 1 mL to greater than 10 liters, while maintaining equivalent volumetric protein yields
FreeStyle® MAX Transfection Reagent
  • Optimized for transient transfection in CHO suspension cells and also works for HEK-293 cells
  • Used for a large-scale transient protein production with milligrams of protein yield
Lipofectamine® 2000 CD Transfection Reagent
  •  Same performance as Lipofectamine® 2000, certified animal-origin free (“CD” = chemically defined)
Oligofectamine® Transfection Reagent
  • Transfection of antisense oligonucleotides
293fectin™ Transfection Reagent
  • Used for transient protein production in combination with the FreeStyle™ 293 Expression System
  • Optimized for suspension FreeStyle™ 293-F cells
Cellfectin® II Transfection Reagent
  • Optimal transfection of insect cells, including S2, Sf9, Sf21 and High Five™ cells
DMRIE-C Transfection Reagent
  • Transfection of suspension cells, including CHO, lymphoid and Jurkat cell lines.
Lipofectamine® Transfection Reagent
  • First generation reagent for plasmid DNA transfections
  • In most cases, Lipofectamine® 2000 provides better performance than Lipofectamine® Transfection Reagent
Lipofectin® Transfection Reagent
  • First generation reagent for plasmid DNA transfections
  • In most cases, Lipofectamine® 2000 provides better performance than Lipofectin® Transfection Reagent
Optifect™ Transfection Reagent
  • Broad use reagent designed for low confluency applications (<70% confluent at the time of transfection)
  • Useful for cell lines that are sensitive to transfection reagents