Transfecting Plasmid DNA into HCT-116 Cells Using Lipofectamine® LTX Reagent


Lipofectamine LTX® Reagent is a proprietary, animal-origin free formulation for the transfection of DNA into eukaryotic cells with low cytotoxicity. This reference provides a recommended procedure to transfect plasmid DNA into HCT-116, human colon carcinoma cells (ATCC no. CCL-247) using Lipofectamine LTX® Reagent.

Important Guidelines for Transfection

Follow these important guidelines when transfecting HCT-116 cells using Lipofectamine LTX® Reagent:

  • Maintain the same seeding conditions between experiments. Use low-passage cells; make sure cells are healthy and greater than 90% viable before transfection.
  • Transfection can be performed both in the presence or absence of serum. Test serum-free media for compatibility with Lipofectamine LTX® Reagent.
  • We recommend Opti-MEM® I Reduced Serum Medium (Cat. No. 31985-070) to dilute the DNA Lipofectamine LTX® Reagent before complexing.
  • Visit or contact Technical Service for other specialized transfection protocols (including cell-type specific advice on use of PLUS™ Reagent and antibiotics, and a protocol for vector-based RNAi).
  • Lipofectamine® LTX Reagent performs well with vector-based RNAi experiments. For siRNA and Stealth™ RNAi transfections, we recommend Lipofectamine® RNAiMAX (Cat. No. 13778-075). Go to or contact Technical Service for more information.

Materials Needed

Have the following reagents on hand before beginning:

  • HCT-116 cells maintained in Minimum Essential Medium (MEM) (Cat. No. 11090-081) medium supplemented with 4 mM L-Glutamine (Cat. No. 25030-081), 10% fetal bovine serum (Cat. No. 16000-044). Grow cells at 37o C with 5% CO2.
  • Plasmid DNA of interest.
  • Lipofectamine LTX® Reagent (store at +4o C until ready to use)
  • Opti-MEM® I Reduced Serum Media
  • Appropriate tissue culture plates and supplies

Transfecting HCT-116 Cells

Use this procedure to transfect plasmid DNA into HCT-116 cells in a 24-well format (for other formats, see Scaling Up or Down Transfections, below). All amounts and volumes are given on a per well basis.

  1. The day before transfection, trypsinize and count the cells. Plate 1.25x105 cells per well in 0.5 ml of complete growth medium. Cell density should be 50-80% confluent on the day of transfection.
  2. (Optional) The day of transfection, remove growth medium from cells and replace with 0.5 ml of complete growth medium.
  3. For each well of cells to be transfected, dilute 0.5 μg of DNA in 100 μl of Opti-MEM® I Reduced Serum Media without serum.
  4. For each well of cells, add 1.25-2.25 μl of Lipofectamine LTX® Reagent into the above diluted Opti-MEM®:DNA solution, mix gently and incubate 30 minutes at room temperature to form DNA- Lipofectamine LTX® Reagent complexes.
  5. After 30 minute incubation, add 100 μl of the DNA- Lipofectamine LTX® Reagent complexes directly to each well containing cells and mix gently by rocking the plate back and forth.
  6. Complexes do not have to be removed following transfection. Incubate the cells at 37oC in a CO2 incubator for 18-24 hours post-transfection before assaying for transgene expression.


Scaling Up or Down Transfections

Culture vessel Surface
area per
Volume plating medium Cells per well Volume
DNA Lipofectamine®
LTX Reagent
96-well 0.3 cm2 100 μl 2.5 x 104 20 μl 100 ng 0.35 - 0.55 μl
48-well 1 cm2 200 μl 5 x 104 40 μl 200 ng 0.7 - 1.1 μl
24-well 2 cm2 500 μl 1.25 x 105 100 μl 500 ng 1.75 - 2.75  μl
12-well 4 cm2 1 ml 2.5 x 105 200 μl 1 μg 3.5 - 5.5 μl
6-well 10 cm2 2 ml 6.25 x 105 500 μl 2.5 μg 8.75 - 13.75 μl


25-0988W    17  Nov  2006