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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.
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.
Erythropoietin (EPO) can protect the retina from acute damage, but long-term systemic treatment induces polycythemia. Intraocular gene delivery of EPO is not protective despite producing high levels of EPO likely due to its bellshaped dose curve. The goal of this study was to identify a therapeutic dose of continuously produced EPO in the eye. We packaged a mutated form of EPO (EPOR76E) that has equivalent neuroprotective activity as wild-type EPO and attenuated erythropoietic activity into a recombinant adeno-associated viral vector under the control of the tetracycline inducible promoter. This vector was injected into the subretinal space of homozygous postnatal 5-7 day retinal degeneration slow mice, that express the tetracycline transactivators from a retinal pigment epithelium specific promoter. At weaning, mice received a single intraperitoneal injection of doxycycline and were then maintained on water with or without doxycycline until postnatal day 60. Intraocular EPO levels and outer nuclear layer thickness were quantified and correlated. Control eyes contained 6.1 ± 0.1 (SEM) mU/ml EPO. The eyes of mice that received an intraperitoneal injection of doxycycline contained 11.8 ± 2.0 (SEM) mU/ml EPO-R76E. Treatment with doxycycline water induced production of 35.9 ± 2.4 (SEM) mU/ml EPO-R76E in the eye. The outer nuclear layer was approximately 8 μm thicker in eyes of mice that received doxycycline water as compared to the control groups. Our data indicates that drug delivery systems should be optimized to deliver at least 36 mU/ml EPO into the eye since this dose was effective for the treatment of a progressive retinal degeneration.
Transposons permit permanent cellular genome engineering in vivo. However, transgene expression falls rapidly postdelivery due to a variety of mechanisms, including immune responses. We hypothesized that delaying initial transgene expression would improve long-term transgene expression by using an engineered piggyBac transposon system that can regulate expression. We found that a 2-part nonviral Tet-KRAB inducible expression system repressed expression of a luciferase reporter in vitro. However, we also observed nonspecific promoter-independent repression. Thus, to achieve temporary transgene repression after gene delivery in vivo, we utilized a nonintegrating version of the repressor plasmid while the gene of interest was delivered in an integrating piggyBac transposon vector. When we delivered the luciferase transposon and repressor to immunocompetent mice by hydrodynamic injection, initial luciferase expression was repressed by 2 orders of magnitude. When luciferase expression was followed long term in vivo, we found that expression was increased >200-fold compared to mice that received only the luciferase transposon and piggyBac transposase. We found that repression of early transgene expression could prevent the priming of luciferase-specific T cells in vivo. Therefore, transient transgene repression postgene delivery is an effective strategy for inhibiting the antitransgene immune response and improving long-term expression in vivo without using immunosuppression.