Novel graft copolymers of 2-(dimethylamino)ethyl methacrylate (DMAEMA) with N-vinylpyrrolidone (NVP) were designed and synthesized by the free radical copolymerization of DMAEMA with precursor polymers of vinyl-functionalized poly(N-vinylpyrrolidone) (PVP). The ability of the PVP- grafted copolymers to bind and condense DNA was confirmed by ethidium bromide displacement assay, agarose gel electrophoresis and transmission electron microscopy. The presence of PVP in the copolymers had a favorable effect on the biophysical properties of polymer/DNA complexes. Colloidal stable complexes obtained from the copolymer systems, were shown to be separate, uniformly spherical nanoparticles by transmission electron microscopy. The approximate diameter of the complexes was 150–200 nm, as determined by dynamic light scattering studies. These results confirm an important role played by the PVP grafts in producing compact stable DNA complexes. The ζ-potential measurements revealed that the incorporation of the PVP grafts reduced the positive surface charge of polymer/DNA complexes. The cytotoxicity of the copolymers decreased with an increasing fraction of PVP. Furthermore, in vitro transfection experiments with these copolymers showed improved ability of transfection in cell culture, demonstrating an important role for PVP grafts in enhancement of the transfection efficiency. <alternatives> [...] </alternatives>
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