Transfection—Moving nucleic acids into cells

Transfection is the deliberate introduction of nucleic acids into eukaryotic cells. Common transfection examples include introducing DNA plasmids that have gene inserts for expression, or small interfering RNA (siRNA) for targeted gene silencing.

Cationic lipid-or polymer-based reagents are commonly used for plasmid transfection and are suitable to most cell types. TurboFect Transfection Reagents are distinct from lipid-based formulas, and are comprised of a sterile solution of a proprietary cationic polymer in water. The polymer forms positively-charged complexes with plasmid DNA that are both compact and stable. These complexes protect the DNA from degradation and facilitate efficient plasmid delivery into eukaryotic cells.


Thermo Scientific TurboFect transfection reagents selection guide

Recommended product TurboFect TurboFect in vivo
Transfectable cell types in vitro  
Appropriate for in vivo use  
Works in the presence of serum

TurboFect Transfection Reagent

  • High transfection efficiency of plasmid into a wide variety of cell types
  • Excellent transfection efficiency in the presence or absence of serum
  • Ready-to-use reagent – no need to reconstitute, dilute, or manipulate
  • Simple protocol

TurboFect in vivo Transfection Reagent

  • No detectable inflammatory response
  • Successful plasmid delivery via multiple routes of administration
  • Functionally tested in mice and rats

In vivo transfection

Transfection can also occur in vivo. With live animal systems, nucleic acids are delivered systemically or locally to target tissues. In animal models there are additional factors to consider, including the presence of nucleases and the animal's innate inflammatory response, which can interfere with transfection efficiency. TurboFect in vivo Transfection Reagent is highly effective for DNA plasmid delivery in vivo, while not inducing an inflammatory response. TurboFect in vivo has been assessed for plasmid DNA delivery in both mice and rats and is suitable for DNA administration via various routes, including intravenous, intraperitoneal, and intratumoral injection.

High transfection efficiency in a wide variety of cell types

Immortalized Cell Cultures

Cell line Origin % Transfected cells* % Viability**
Cos-7 African green monkey kidney cells 98 90
HeLa Human cervix adenocarcinoma cells 97 95
CHO Chinese hamster ovary cells 89 92
HEK293 Human embryonic kidney cells 94 80
B50 Rat nervous tissue neuronal cells 60 87
Calu1 Human lung epidermoid carcinoma cells 70 90
RAW264 Mouse leukaemic monocyte-macrophage cells 60 93
WEHI Mouse B cell lymphoma cells 75 87
MDCK Madin Darby Canine Kidney cells 92 94
Raji Human Burkitt's lymphoma cells 0.2 87
COLO Human colon adenocarcinoma cells 20 90
Jurkat Human leukaemic T cells 5 77
Sp2/Ag14 Mouse myeloma cells 22 97
HeLa S3 Human cervix carcinoma cells 32 85
Hep2C Human larynx carcinoma cells 90 88
L929 Mouse connective tissue fibroblasts 60 91
NIH3T3 Mouse embryo fibroblasts 97 89
HepG2 Human hepatoma cells 55
BHK 21 Baby hamster kidney cells 84

Primary Cell Cultures

Cell line Origin % Transfected cells* % Viability**
Dendritic cells Mouse bone marrow 5 76
Macrophages Mouse bone marrow 3 48
HLF Human lung fibroblasts 91 88

Tables list cell types that have been evaluated with TurboFect transfection reagent for efficiency and cytotoxicity. Results stated are for transient (48 hour) transfection.
1 μg DNA plasmid expressing GFP : 1.8-2.2 μL TurboFect transfection reagent.*Transfection efficiency measured by percentage of GFP positive cells in the population of live cells by flow cytometry.**Cell viability measured by % of live/dead cells from total population.