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Insertional mutagenesis is an important risk with all genetically modified cell therapies, including chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cell therapy used for hematological malignancies. Here we describe a new tagmentation-assisted PCR (tag-PCR) system that can determine the integration sites of transgenes without using restriction enzyme digestion (which can potentially bias the detection) and allows library preparation in fewer steps than with other methods. Using this system, we compared the integration sites of CD19-specific CAR genes in final T cell products generated by retrovirus-based and lentivirus-based gene transfer and by the piggyBac transposon system. The piggyBac system demonstrated lower preference than the retroviral system for integration near transcriptional start sites and CpG islands and higher preference than the lentiviral system for integration into genomic safe harbors. Integration into or near proto-oncogenes was similar in all three systems. Tag-PCR mapping is a useful technique for assessing the risk of insertional mutagenesis.
Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
A cell therapy platform permitting long-term delivery of peptide hormones in vivo would be a significant advance for patients with hormonal deficiencies. Here we report the utility of antigen-specific T lymphocytes as a regulatable peptide delivery platform for in vivo therapy. piggyBac transposon modification of murine cells with luciferase allows us to visualize T cells after adoptive transfer. Vaccination stimulates long-term T-cell engraftment, persistence, and transgene expression enabling detection of modified cells up to 300 days after adoptive transfer. We demonstrate adoptive transfer of antigen-specific T cells expressing erythropoietin (EPO) elevating the hematocrit in mice for more than 20 weeks. We extend our observations to human T cells demonstrating inducible EPO production from Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) antigen-specific T lymphocytes. Our results reveal antigen-specific T lymphocytes to be an effective delivery platform for therapeutic molecules such as EPO in vivo, with important implications for other diseases that require peptide therapy.
Transposable element (TE)-derived sequences make up approximately half of most mammalian genomes, and many TEs have been co-opted into gene regulatory elements. However, we lack a comprehensive tissue- and genome-wide understanding of how and when TEs gain regulatory activity in their hosts. We evaluated the prevalence of TE-derived DNA in enhancers and promoters across hundreds of human and mouse cell lines and primary tissues. Promoters are significantly depleted of TEs in all tissues compared with their overall prevalence in the genome (P < 0.001); enhancers are also depleted of TEs, though not as strongly as promoters. The degree of enhancer depletion also varies across contexts (1.5-3×), with reproductive and immune cells showing the highest levels of TE regulatory activity in humans. Overall, in spite of the regulatory potential of many TE sequences, they are significantly less active in gene regulation than expected from their prevalence. TE age is predictive of the likelihood of enhancer activity; TEs originating before the divergence of amniotes are 9.2 times more likely to have enhancer activity than TEs that integrated in great apes. Context-specific enhancers are more likely to be TE-derived than enhancers active in multiple tissues, and young TEs are more likely to overlap context-specific enhancers than old TEs (86% vs. 47%). Once TEs obtain enhancer activity in the host, they have similar functional dynamics to one another and non-TE-derived enhancers, likely driven by pleiotropic constraints. However, a few TE families, most notably endogenous retroviruses, have greater regulatory potential. Our observations suggest a model of regulatory co-option in which TE-derived sequences are initially repressed, after which a small fraction obtains context-specific enhancer activity, with further gains subject to pleiotropic constraints.
© The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Integrating DNA delivery systems hold promise for many applications including treatment of diseases; however, targeted integration is needed for improved safety. The piggyBac (PB) transposon system is a highly active non-viral gene delivery system capable of integrating defined DNA segments into host chromosomes without requiring homologous recombination. We systematically compared four different engineered zinc finger proteins (ZFP), four transcription activator-like effector proteins (TALE), CRISPR associated protein 9 (SpCas9) and the catalytically inactive dSpCas9 protein fused to the amino-terminus of the transposase enzyme designed to target the hypoxanthine phosphoribosyltransferase (HPRT) gene located on human chromosome X. Chimeric transposases were evaluated for expression, transposition activity, chromatin immunoprecipitation at the target loci, and targeted knockout of the HPRT gene in human cells. One ZFP-PB and one TALE-PB chimera demonstrated notable HPRT gene targeting. In contrast, Cas9/dCas9-PB chimeras did not result in gene targeting. Instead, the HPRT locus appeared to be protected from transposon integration. Supplied separately, PB permitted highly efficient isolation of Cas9-mediated knockout of HPRT, with zero transposon integrations in HPRT by deep sequencing. In summary, these tools may allow isolation of 'targeted-only' cells, be utilized to protect a genomic locus from transposon integration, and enrich for Cas9-mutated cells.
Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research 2017.
Long intergenic noncoding RNAs (lincRNAs) have emerged as key regulators of cellular functions and physiology. Yet functional lincRNAs often have low, context-specific and tissue-specific expression. We hypothesized that many human monocyte and adipose lincRNAs would be absent in current public annotations due to lincRNA tissue specificity, modest sequencing depth in public data, limitations of transcriptome assembly algorithms, and lack of dynamic physiological contexts. Deep RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) was performed in peripheral blood CD14 monocytes (monocytes; average ~247 million reads per sample) and adipose tissue (average ~378 million reads per sample) collected before and after human experimental endotoxemia, an in vivo inflammatory stress, to identify tissue-specific and clinically relevant lincRNAs. Using a stringent filtering pipeline, we identified 109 unannotated lincRNAs in monocytes and 270 unannotated lincRNAs in adipose. Most unannotated lincRNAs are not conserved in rodents and are tissue specific, while many have features of regulated expression and are enriched in transposable elements. Specific subsets have enhancer RNA characteristics or are expressed only during inflammatory stress. A subset of unannotated lincRNAs was validated and replicated for their presence and inflammatory induction in independent human samples and for their monocyte and adipocyte origins. Through interrogation of public genome-wide association data, we also found evidence of specific disease association for selective unannotated lincRNAs. Our findings highlight the critical need to perform deep RNA-Seq in a cell-, tissue-, and context-specific manner to annotate the full repertoire of human lincRNAs for a complete understanding of lincRNA roles in dynamic cell functions and in human disease.
Copyright © 2017 the American Physiological Society.
Methods enabling kidney-specific gene transfer in adult mice are needed to develop new therapies for kidney disease. We attempted kidney-specific gene transfer following hydrodynamic tail vein injection using the kidney-specific podocin and gamma-glutamyl transferase promoters, but found expression primarily in the liver. In order to achieve kidney-specific transgene expression, we tested direct hydrodynamic injection of a DNA solution into the renal pelvis and found that luciferase expression was strong in the kidney and absent from extra-renal tissues. We observed heterogeneous, low-level transfection of the collecting duct, proximal tubule, distal tubule, interstitial cells, and rarely glomerular cells following injection. To assess renal injury, we performed the renal pelvis injections on uninephrectomised mice and found that their blood urea nitrogen was elevated at two days post-transfer but resolved within two weeks. Although luciferase expression quickly decreased following renal pelvis injection, the use of the piggyBac transposon system improved long-term expression. Immunosuppression with cyclophosphamide stabilised luciferase expression, suggesting immune clearance of the transfected cells occurs in immunocompetent animals. Injection of a transposon expressing erythropoietin raised the haematocrit, indicating that the developed injection technique can elicit a biologic effect in vivo. Hydrodynamic renal pelvis injection enables transposon mediated-kidney specific gene transfer in adult mice.
Transposons are highly abundant in eukaryotic genomes, but their mobilization must be finely tuned to maintain host organism fitness and allow for transposon propagation. Forty percent of the human genome is comprised of transposable element sequences, and the most abundant cut-and-paste transposons are from the hAT superfamily. We found that the hAT transposase TcBuster from Tribolium castaneum formed filamentous structures, or rodlets, in human tissue culture cells, after gene transfer to adult mice, and ex vivo in cell-free conditions, indicating that host co-factors or cellular structures were not required for rodlet formation. Time-lapsed imaging of GFP-laced rodlets in human cells revealed that they formed quickly in a dynamic process involving fusion and fission. We delayed the availability of the transposon DNA and found that transposition declined after transposase concentrations became high enough for visible transposase rodlets to appear. In combination with earlier findings for maize Ac elements, these results give insight into transposase overproduction inhibition by demonstrating that the appearance of transposase protein structures and the end of active transposition are simultaneous, an effect with implications for genetic engineering and horizontal gene transfer.
Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research 2016. This work is written by (a) US Government employee(s) and is in the public domain in the US.
Staphylococcus aureus is capable of infecting nearly every organ in the human body. In order to infiltrate and thrive in such diverse host tissues, staphylococci must possess remarkable flexibility in both metabolic and virulence programs. To investigate the genetic requirements for bacterial survival during invasive infection, we performed a transposon sequencing (TnSeq) analysis of S. aureus during experimental osteomyelitis. TnSeq identified 65 genes essential for staphylococcal survival in infected bone and an additional 148 mutants with compromised fitness in vivo. Among the loci essential for in vivo survival was SrrAB, a staphylococcal two-component system previously reported to coordinate hypoxic and nitrosative stress responses in vitro. Healthy bone is intrinsically hypoxic, and intravital oxygen monitoring revealed further decreases in skeletal oxygen concentrations upon S. aureus infection. The fitness of an srrAB mutant during osteomyelitis was significantly increased by depletion of neutrophils, suggesting that neutrophils impose hypoxic and/or nitrosative stresses on invading bacteria. To more globally evaluate staphylococcal responses to changing oxygenation, we examined quorum sensing and virulence factor production in staphylococci grown under aerobic or hypoxic conditions. Hypoxic growth resulted in a profound increase in quorum sensing-dependent toxin production, and a concomitant increase in cytotoxicity toward mammalian cells. Moreover, aerobic growth limited quorum sensing and cytotoxicity in an SrrAB-dependent manner, suggesting a mechanism by which S. aureus modulates quorum sensing and toxin production in response to environmental oxygenation. Collectively, our results demonstrate that bacterial hypoxic responses are key determinants of the staphylococcal-host interaction.
Adoptive transfer of gene modified T cells provides possible immunotherapy for patients with cancers refractory to other treatments. We have previously used the non-viral piggyBac transposon system to gene modify human T cells for potential immunotherapy. However, these previous studies utilized adoptive transfer of modified human T cells to target cancer xenografts in highly immunodeficient (NOD-SCID) mice that do not recapitulate an intact immune system. Currently, only viral vectors have shown efficacy in permanently gene-modifying mouse T cells for immunotherapy applications. Therefore, we sought to determine if piggyBac could effectively gene modify mouse T cells to target cancer cells in a mouse cancer model. We first demonstrated that we could gene modify cells to express murine interleukin-12 (p35/p40 mIL-12), a transgene with proven efficacy in melanoma immunotherapy. The OT-I melanoma mouse model provides a well-established T cell mediated immune response to ovalbumin (OVA) positive B16 melanoma cells. B16/OVA melanoma cells were implanted in wild type C57Bl6 mice. Mouse splenocytes were isolated from C57Bl6 OT-I mice and were gene modified using piggyBac to express luciferase. Adoptive transfer of luciferase-modified OT-I splenocytes demonstrated homing to B16/OVA melanoma tumors in vivo. We next gene-modified OT-I cells to express mIL-12. Adoptive transfer of mIL-12-modified mouse OT-I splenocytes delayed B16/OVA melanoma tumor growth in vivo compared to control OT-I splenocytes and improved mouse survival. Our results demonstrate that the piggyBac transposon system can be used to gene modify splenocytes and mouse T cells for evaluating adoptive immunotherapy strategies in immunocompetent mouse tumor models that may more directly mimic immunotherapy applications in humans.
Non-viral transposons have been used successfully for genetic modification of clinically relevant cells including embryonic stem, induced pluripotent stem, hematopoietic stem and primary human T cell types. However, there has been limited evaluation of undesired genomic effects when using transposons for human genome modification. The prevalence of piggyBac(PB)-like terminal repeat (TR) elements in the human genome raises concerns. We evaluated if there were undesired genomic effects of the PB transposon system to modify human cells. Expression of the transposase alone revealed no mobilization of endogenous PB-like sequences in the human genome and no increase in DNA double-strand breaks. The use of PB in a plasmid containing both transposase and transposon greatly increased the probability of transposase integration; however, using transposon and transposase from separate vectors circumvented this. Placing a eGFP transgene within transposon vector backbone allowed isolation of cells free from vector backbone DNA. We confirmed observable directional promoter activity within the 5'TR element of PB but found no significant enhancer effects from the transposon DNA sequence. Long-term culture of primary human cells modified with eGFP-transposons revealed no selective growth advantage of transposon-harboring cells. PB represents a promising vector system for genetic modification of human cells with limited undesired genomic effects.
Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research 2015. This work is written by (a) US Government employee(s) and is in the public domain in the US.