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There are many advantages to using mRNA vs DNA for transfection and they are cell line specific.
-A much higher level of transfection efficiency
If you are working with a difficult to transfect cell type, where DNA transfection yields less than 30% efficiency, transfecting an mRNA alternative can provide up to 80% transfection efficiency. Part of the hurdles that are encountered with DNA delivery has to do with the multiple steps required during transfection. In order to have a protein expressed in a cell, typically DNA is transfected, enters the nucleus, transcribed to mRNA, exported from the nucleus and translated into a protein in the cytoplasm. When delivering mRNA directly, the mRNA is present in the cytoplasm and ready for immediate translation to protein. However, if you are currently satisfied with the level of transfection achieved in the cell line that you are working with, there is no need to switch to mRNA.
-It is a foot-print free method with no risk of genomic integration
mRNA transfection is transient and does not enter the nucleus or pose a risk of integrating with the cellular host DNA and is currently being researched for possible vaccine replacement and disease model development.
-Additionally, transfection of mRNA with the newly developed Lipofectamine® MessengerMAX™ reagent, provides higher efficiency in a wider range of cell types
(e.g. primary neurons, primary hepatocytes, primary keratinocytes, primary fibroblasts, iPS cells, hNSC, mESC, Raw 264.7, SH-SY-5Y, HT-29). This is a result of its ability to delivery the highest amount of mRNA independent of the cell model being used.