A Simple Nonviral Method to Generate Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells Using SMAR DNA Vectors

Anna Hartley, Luisa Burger, Cornelia L. Wincek, Lieke Dons, Tracy Li, Annabel Grewenig, Toros Taşgın, Manuela Urban, Alicia Roig-Merino, Mehrnaz Ghazvini, Richard P. Harbottle*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Downloads (Pure)


Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are a powerful tool for biomedical research, but their production presents challenges and safety concerns. Yamanaka and Takahashi revolutionised the field by demonstrating that somatic cells could be reprogrammed into pluripotent cells by overexpressing four key factors for a sufficient time. iPSCs are typically generated using viruses or virus-based methods, which have drawbacks such as vector persistence, risk of insertional mutagenesis, and oncogenesis. The application of less harmful nonviral vectors is limited as conventional plasmids cannot deliver the levels or duration of the factors necessary from a single transfection. Hence, plasmids that are most often used for reprogramming employ the potentially oncogenic Epstein–Barr nuclear antigen 1 (EBNA-1) system to ensure adequate levels and persistence of expression. In this study, we explored the use of nonviral SMAR DNA vectors to reprogram human fibroblasts into iPSCs. We show for the first time that iPSCs can be generated using nonviral plasmids without the use of EBNA-1 and that these DNA vectors can provide sufficient expression to induce pluripotency. We describe an optimised reprogramming protocol using these vectors that can produce high-quality iPSCs with comparable pluripotency and cellular function to those generated with viruses or EBNA-1 vectors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number575
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright: © 2024 by the authors.


Dive into the research topics of 'A Simple Nonviral Method to Generate Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells Using SMAR DNA Vectors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this