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All nephrons in the mammalian kidney arise from a transient nephron progenitor population that is lost close to the time of birth. The generation of new nephron progenitors and their maintenance in culture are central to the success of kidney regenerative strategies. Using a lentiviral screening approach, we previously generated a human induced nephron progenitor-like state in vitro using a pool of six transcription factors. Here, we sought to develop a more efficient approach for direct reprogramming of human cells that could be applied in vivo. PiggyBac transposons are a non-viral integrating gene delivery system that is suitable for in vivo use and allows for simultaneous delivery of multiple genes. Using an inducible piggyBac transposon system, we optimized a protocol for the direct reprogramming of HK2 cells to induced nephron progenitor-like cells with expression of only 3 transcription factors (SNAI2, EYA1, and SIX1). Culture in conditions supportive of the nephron progenitor state further increased the expression of nephron progenitor genes. The refined protocol was then applied to primary human renal epithelial cells, which integrated into developing nephron structures in vitro and in vivo. Such inducible reprogramming to nephron progenitor-like cells could facilitate direct cellular reprogramming for kidney regeneration.
Copyright © 2019 International Society of Nephrology. All rights reserved.
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.
Antisense morpholino oligonucleotides have been commonly used in zebrafish to inhibit mRNA function, either by inhibiting pre-mRNA splicing or by blocking translation initiation. Even with the advent of genome editing by CRISP/Cas9 technology, morpholinos provide a useful and rapid tool to knockdown gene expression. This is especially true when dealing with multiple alleles and large gene families where genetic redundancy can complicate knockout of all family members. miRNAs are small noncoding RNAs that are often encoded in gene families and can display extensive genetic redundancy. This redundancy, plus their small size which can limit targeting by CRISPR/Cas9, makes morpholino-based strategies particularly attractive for inhibition of miRNA function. We provide the rationale, background, and methods to inhibit miRNA function with antisense morpholinos during early development and in the adult retina in zebrafish.
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.
PURPOSE - To test the efficacy of systemic gene delivery of a mutant form of erythropoietin (EPO-R76E) that has attenuated erythropoietic activity, in a mouse model of autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa.
METHODS - Ten-day old mice carrying one copy of human rhodopsin with the P23H mutation and both copies of wild-type mouse rhodopsin (hP23H RHO+/-,mRHO+/+) were injected into the quadriceps with recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) carrying either enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) or EpoR76E. Visual function (electroretinogram) and retina structure (optical coherence tomography, histology, and immunohistochemistry) were assessed at 7 and 12 months of age.
RESULTS - The outer nuclear layer thickness decreased over time at a slower rate in rAAV.EpoR76E treated as compared to the rAAV.eGFP injected mice. There was a statistically significant preservation of the electroretinogram at 7, but not 12 months of age.
CONCLUSIONS - Systemic EPO-R76E slows death of the photoreceptors and vision loss in hP23H RHO+/-,mRHO+/+ mice. Treatment with EPO-R76E may widen the therapeutic window for retinal degeneration patients by increasing the number of viable cells. Future studies might investigate if co-treatment with EPO-R76E and gene replacement therapy is more effective than gene replacement therapy alone.
Erythropoietin (EPO) is critical for red blood cell production and is also an effective neuroprotective agent. However, it may contribute to pathological angiogenesis. Here we investigate the angiogenic potential of EPO and a mutant form with attenuated erythropoietic activity, EPO-R76E, on primary human retinal microvascular endothelial cells (HRMECs) and in the adult retina. Assays of death, proliferation and tube formation were performed on HRMECs exposed to EPO, EPO-R76E or media alone. Postnatal day-9 wild-type mice were injected intramuscularly with adeno-associated virus vectors expressing either enhanced green fluorescent protein or EpoR76E. At 3 months, levels of EPO-R76E in the eye were quantified, and the health of the retinal vasculature was assessed by fluorescein angiography and isolectin immunolabeling. Immunohistochemistry, histology and electroretinogram (ERG) assessments were performed as measures of retinal health. Neither EPO nor EPO-R76E induced proliferation or tube formation in HRMECs under the conditions used. EPO-R76E decreased HRMEC death in a dose-dependent manner. Long-term systemic gene delivery of EPO-R76E was safe in terms of retinal vasculature, histology and the ERG in vivo. Our results show that EPO-R76E can block HRMEC death, consistent with its role in erythropoiesis and neuroprotection. In addition, long-term gene delivery of EPO-R76E is safe in the adult retina.
A dual-targeted siRNA nanocarrier has been synthesized and validated that is selectively activated in environments where there is colocalization of two breast cancer hallmarks, elevated matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) activity and folate receptor overexpression. This siRNA nanocarrier is self-assembled from two polymers containing the same pH-responsive, endosomolytic core-forming block but varying hydrophilic, corona-forming blocks. The corona block of one polymer consists of a 2 kDa PEG attached to a terminal folic acid (FA); the second polymer contains a larger (Y-shaped, 20 kDa) PEG attached to the core block by a proximity-activated targeting (PAT), MMP7-cleavable peptide. In mixed micelle smart polymer nanoparticles (SPNs) formed from the FA- and PAT-based polymers, the proteolytically removable PEG on the PAT polymers shields nonspecific SPN interactions with cells or proteins. When the PAT element is cleaved within an MMP-rich environment, the PEG shielding is removed, exposing the underlying FA and making it accessible for folate receptor-mediated SPN uptake. Characterization of mixed micelles prepared from these two polymers revealed that uptake and siRNA knockdown bioactivity of a 50% FA/50% PAT formulation was dependent on both proteolytic activation and FA receptor engagement. MMP activation and delivery of this formulation to breast cancer cells expressing the FA receptor achieved greater than 50% protein-level knockdown of a model gene with undetectable cytotoxicity. This modular nanoparticle design represents a new paradigm in cell-selective siRNA delivery and allows for stoichiometric tuning of dual-targeting components to achieve superior targeting specificity.
The ability to develop tissue constructs with matrix composition and biomechanical properties that promote rapid tissue repair or regeneration remains an enduring challenge in musculoskeletal engineering. Current approaches require extensive cell manipulation ex vivo, using exogenous growth factors to drive tissue-specific differentiation, matrix accumulation, and mechanical properties, thus limiting their potential clinical utility. The ability to induce and maintain differentiation of stem cells in situ could bypass these steps and enhance the success of engineering approaches for tissue regeneration. The goal of this study was to generate a self-contained bioactive scaffold capable of mediating stem cell differentiation and formation of a cartilaginous extracellular matrix (ECM) using a lentivirus-based method. We first showed that poly-L-lysine could immobilize lentivirus to poly(ε-caprolactone) films and facilitate human mesenchymal stem cell (hMSC) transduction. We then demonstrated that scaffold-mediated gene delivery of transforming growth factor β3 (TGF-β3), using a 3D woven poly(ε-caprolactone) scaffold, induced robust cartilaginous ECM formation by hMSCs. Chondrogenesis induced by scaffold-mediated gene delivery was as effective as traditional differentiation protocols involving medium supplementation with TGF-β3, as assessed by gene expression, biochemical, and biomechanical analyses. Using lentiviral vectors immobilized on a biomechanically functional scaffold, we have developed a system to achieve sustained transgene expression and ECM formation by hMSCs. This method opens new avenues in the development of bioactive implants that circumvent the need for ex vivo tissue generation by enabling the long-term goal of in situ tissue engineering.
AIMS - Antibodies are the principal mediator of immunity against reinfection with viruses. Antibodies typically neutralize viruses by binding to virion particles in solution prior to attachment to susceptible cells. Once viruses enter cells, conventional antibodies cannot inhibit virus infection or replication. It is desirable to develop an efficient and nontoxic method for the introduction of virus-inhibiting antibodies into cells.
MATERIALS & METHODS - In this article, we report a new method for the delivery of small recombinant antibody fragments into virus-infected cells using a dendrimer-based molecular transporter.
RESULTS & CONCLUSION - The construct penetrated virus-infected cells efficiently and inhibited virus replication. This method provides a novel approach for the immediate delivery of inhibitory antibodies directed to virus proteins that are exposed only in the intracellular environment. This approach circumvents the current and rather complicated expression of inhibitory antibodies in cells following gene transfer.