High molecular weight polyethylenimines (PEIs) are considered as gold standard for transfection studies; however, cytotoxicity associated with branched ones and lower charge density on linear PEIs as well as lower uptake of the resulting deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) complexes have limited their applications in clinical studies. In order to address these concerns and improve the uptake efficiency of the DNA complexes of linear polyethylenimine (25 kDa), the polymer was grafted with variable amounts of butylboronic acid to obtain a small series of linear polyethylenimine-butylboronic acid polymers. These modified polymers were allowed to interact with plasmid DNA and the resulting complexes were characterized by physicochemical techniques. Dynamic light scattering data showed the formation of nanosized complexes with positive zeta potential values. Furthermore, when these complexes were evaluated in vitro, they not only showed enhanced cell viability but also exhibited higher transfection efficiency as compared to native linear and branched PEIs and a commercially available standard transfection reagent, Lipofectamine 2000.

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See supplementary material at https://doi.org/10.1116/1.5054930 for experimental details of synthesis of LP-BBA polymers; physicochemical characterization of modified polymers and their pDNA complexes; gel retardation assay; heparin release assay; determination of buffering capacity; in vitro transfection and cell viability assays; fluorescence activated cell sorting analysis; size and zeta potential data.

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