Evaluation of long-term transgene expression in piggyBac-modified human T lymphocytes.

Nakazawa Y, Saha S, Galvan DL, Huye L, Rollins L, Rooney CM, Wilson MH
J Immunother. 2013 36 (1): 3-10

PMID: 23211626 · PMCID: PMC3521868 · DOI:10.1097/CJI.0b013e3182791234

The piggyBac transposon system is a promising nonviral method to genetically modify T cells for immunotherapeutic applications. To evaluate the regulation and stability of transgene expression in human T cells modified with piggyBac-transposons, peripheral blood mononuclear cells were nucleofected with transposase and an enhanced green fluorescence protein (eGFP)-expressing transposon. Single-cell clones that were subsequently stimulated and expanded exhibited homogenous eGFP expression for >26 weeks in culture. CD3 stimulation of the T-cell receptor together with CD28-mediated costimulation resulted in an approximate 10-fold transient increase in eGFP expression, but immunomodulatory cytokines, including interferon-γ, interleukin-12, interleukin-4, and transforming growth factor-β, did not alter transgene expression in actively dividing, activated, or resting T cells. Epigenetic modification with 5-azacytidine or trichostatin-A increased transgene expression indicating that piggyBac-mediated transgene expression could be modulated by methylation or histone acetylation, respectively. We performed transposon copy number analysis of populations of stably transfected T cells, comparing transposon plasmids of 5.6 and 3.5 kb. The smaller vector achieved an average of 22 transposon copies per cell, whereas the larger vector achieved 1.6 copies/cell, implying that transposon copy number can be engineered to be low or high depending on the vector used. Our results provide important insight into the ability of piggyBac to achieve stable genetic modification of T cells for immunotherapy applications and how transgene expression might be regulated by TCR activation, cytokines, and epigenetic mechanisms.

MeSH Terms (16)

Antineoplastic Agents Azacitidine Cells, Cultured Cytokines DNA Transposable Elements Gene Expression Green Fluorescent Proteins Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors Humans Hydroxamic Acids Leukocytes, Mononuclear Nerve Tissue Proteins Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell T-Lymphocytes Transfection Transgenes

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