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Transfection & Expression

Chariot™ Protein Delivery Reagent

simple, efficient protein delivery

Chariot™* is a revolutionary delivery reagent that quickly and efficiently transports biologically active proteins, peptides and antibodies directly into cells. The typical delivery efficiency is 60-95%. Less than two hours after delivery, live cells can be assayed to determine the effects of the introduced material, without the need for fixing. This makes Chariot an ideal tool for functional studies, including delivering inhibitory proteins, labeling organelles, screening peptide libraries and studying protein half-lives & transient complementation.

* Chariot is covered under U.S. Patent No. 6,841,535. Purchase includes the right to use for basic research purposes only. Other use licenses are available, please contact Active Motif Technical Service for additional information.

Name Format Cat No. Price  
Chariot™ 25 rxns 30025 $325 Buy Now
100 rxns 30100 $745 Buy Now
β-Galactosidase Staining Kit 75 rxns 35001 $245 Buy Now

Chariot™ advantages

  • Works in a variety of cell lines (see table on the User Data tab)
  • Facilitates functional studies in living cells — no fixing required
  • Works in vivo1
  • Fast and efficient — 60-95% transfection in less than 2 hours
  • No need for expression of fusion proteins
  • Non-cytotoxic, serum independent

Why use Chariot™?

Current transfection techniques include cationic liposomes2, calcium phosphate coprecipitation3, electroporation4, microinjection5 and viral vectors6. These methods are useful but are very time-consuming as once transfection is completed, it takes 12-80 hours to detect expression of the gene of interest. A greater drawback is that the cytotoxicity of these methods can make it difficult to determine if any observed changes are caused by the recombinant protein or induced by the transfection method itself.

Chariot is a novel transfection method that eliminates many of the problems encountered with more commonly used procedures. The Chariot peptide forms a non-covalent bond with the macromolecule of interest. This stabilizes the protein, protecting it from degradation and preserving its natural characteristics during the transfection process7, 8. After delivery, the complex dissociates, leaving the macromolecule biologically active and free to proceed to its target organelle. Delivery occurs in the presence or absence of serum and is independent of the endosomal pathway, which can modify macromolecules during internalization. This, coupled with the fact that Chariot is non-cytotoxic, ensures that observed changes are the result of your recombinant protein, and not the transfection method.

Diagram 1: Flow chart of the Chariot process.

Proven performance

Chariot has been used to efficiently transfect a variety of cell lines. As a general rule, the larger the protein to be delivered, the slower it will be delivered; increasing protein size may also reduce delivery efficiency, though increasing delivery time will usually allow for adequate delivery. In contrast, Chariot cannot deliver very small peptides because they do not form a viable complex with the Chariot peptide. Therefore, we recommend that peptides be a minimum of 10 amino acids in length.

Chariot™ delivers for you


The ability of Chariot to deliver antibodies was demonstrated using FITC-labeled Actin and Lamp-1 antibodies. These were targeted to Actin filaments (Figure 1) and endosomes (Figure 2), respectively.

Chariot delivery of fluorescent Actin antibody into fixed and unfixed human fibroblast (HS-68) cells
Figure 1: Delivery of fluorescent Actin antibody.

Actin filament labeling of human fibroblast (HS-68) cells using a 1/1000 dilution of FITC-labeled Actin antibody. Fixed (A) and unfixed (B) cells were observed two hours post-transfection.

Chariot delivery of fluorescent Lamp-1 antibody
Figure 2: Delivery of fluorescent Lamp-1 antibody.

Endosome labeling of HS-68 cells using a 1/500 dilution of FITC-labeled  Lamp 1 antibody. Unfixed cells were observed two hours post-transfection.


β-galactosidase is a protein that is composed of four identical subunits. The ability of Chariot to deliver protein was demonstrated using a 119 kDa subunit of β-galactosidase (Figure 3).

Chariot delivery of beta-galactosidase into HeLa cells
Figure 3: Delivery of β-galactosidase into HeLa cells.

1 µg of a 119 kDa subunit of β-galactosidase was complexed with Chariot™ Protein Delivery Reagent for 30 minutes and delivered into HeLa cells. Two hours post-delivery, cells were fixed and stained using the β-Galactosidase Staining Kit.

Targeted delivery

The non-covalent Chariot-macromolecule complex dissolves after delivery, leaving the macromolecule biologically active and free to proceed to its target organelle, if it contains specific signaling sequences. This was demonstrated using a 51-mer nuclear protein (Figure 4) and a 32-mer cytoplasmic peptide (Figure 5).

Targeted Chariot delivery of nuclear protein directly into the nucleus
Figure 4: Nuclear-targeted protein delivery.

Chariot was complexed with a fluorescently labeled 51-mer nuclear protein at a 20:1 ratio and delivered into HS-68 cells. Unfixed cells were observed 90 minutes post-delivery.

Chariot delivery of peptide into the cytoplasm of mouse 3T3 cells
Figure 5: Cytoplasmic peptide delivery.

Chariot was complexed with a fluorescently labeled 32-mer cytoplasmic peptide at a 20:1 ratio and delivered into mouse 3T3 fibroblasts. Unfixed cells were observed 90 minutes post-delivery.

Chariot speeds and simplifies a variety of functional studies because it efficiently delivers biologically active proteins, peptides and antibodies directly into live mammalian cells. This means you’ll get conclusive data immediately, rather than having to wait days for ambiguous expression data. For additional information, please download the Chariot manual and product profile.


  1. Aoshiba, K. et al. (2003) Am. J. Resp. Cell & Mol. Biol. 28: 555-562.
  2. Felgner, P.L. et al. (1987) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 84: 7413-7417.
  3. Graham, F.L. and van der Eb, A.J. (1973) Virology 52: 456-467.
  4. Neumann, E. et al. (1982) EMBO J. 7: 841-845.
  5. Capecchi, M.R. (1980) Cell 22: 479-488.
  6. Cepko, C.L. et al. (1984) Cell 37: 1053-1062.
  7. Morris, M. et al. (1999) J. Biol. Chem. 274 (35): 24941-24946.
  8. Morris, M. et al. (2001) Nature Biotech 19: 1173-1176.

Chariot’s ability to effectively deliver proteins, peptides and antibodies into a variety of cell types is well documented. To download a list of nearly 100 publications citing the use of Chariot, click here.

The following table is compiled from data furnished to us by our customers. This chart is by no means exhaustive.

Cell line/model Cell type Macromolecule delivered Transfection efficiency
293 Human embryonic kidney GFP 80%
3T3-L1 Mouse fibroblast Antibody 80%
A549 Human lung carcinoma Antibody 95%
Arabidopsis Primary plant protoplasts Protein Not provided
COS-7 Monkey kidney Protein, oligopeptide 80%
CV-1 Monkey kidney Antibody 55%
Embryonic cells Primary mouse Protein 90%
Fetal Endothelial cells Primary mouse Protein 70-80%
HCA2 Human fibroblasts Protein 90%
HeLa Human cervix carcinoma Protein, peptide, antibody 95%
HEK293 Human Kidney Protein 50%
HMSC Primary human mesenchymal stem cells Peptide 80%
HS-68 Human foreskin fibroblast Protein, peptide, antibody 95%
IMR90 Human fibroblast Protein, peptide 80%
J774 Mouse macrophage Antibody 90%
Jurkat Human T-cell leukemia Protein, peptide, antibody 75%
MCF-7 Human breast carcinoma GFP 70%
Mono Mac 6 Primary human monocyte Protein 50%
Mouse hepatocytes Primary liver Protein 95%
Mouse model (in vivo) Alveolar wall tissue Protein 88%
Neural retina cells Primary chicken Protein 80%
NIH/3T3 Mouse embryo Protein, peptide 80%
NRK Normal rat kidney Antibody 30-60%
Pancreatic cells Primary human Protein 90%
PC-12 Rat pheochromocytoma Protein, peptide 80%
Saos-2 human osteosarcoma cells Antibody 50-70%
SCC-61 Primary human head + neck tumor Peptide 90%
Sensory neurons (DRG) Primary chicken Antibody, peptide 80%
Sensory neurons (DRG) Primary rat Protein 80%
Thyrocytes Primary human Protein 90%
u373 human Protein 80%
U87mg Human astroglioma Antibody 70%
WI-38 Human lung fibroblast Protein, peptide, antibody 95%
WISH Human placenta carcinoma Protein 30%

Contents & Storage

Chariot is offered in 25- and 100-reaction kits, where a reaction is defined as the amount of reagents required to deliver the β-galactosidase positive control protein to cells in one well of a 6-well plate or in a 35 mm plate. The number of reactions you can perform will vary depending on the size plates used and the type of macromolecule(s) delivered. Each Chariot Kit contains sufficient Chariot Transfection Reagent, PBS, β-galactosidase positive control protein and sterile water for either 25 or 100 reactions. Store all reagents at -20°C. All reagents are guaranteed stable for 6 months.