Dronadula N, Du L, Flynn R, Buckler J, Kho J, Jiang Z, Tanaka S, Dichek DA. 2011. Construction of a novel expression cassette for increasing transgene expression in vivo in endothelial cells of large blood vessels. Gene therapy. 18(5):501-8. Pubmed: 21179172 DOI:10.1038/gt.2010.173


The success of gene therapy hinges on achievement of adequate transgene expression. To ensure high transgene expression, many gene-therapy vectors include highly active virus-derived transcriptional elements. Other vectors include tissue-specific eukaryotic transcriptional elements, intended to limit transgene expression to specific cell types, avoid toxicity and prevent immune responses. Unfortunately, tissue specificity is often accompanied by lower transgene expression. Here, we use eukaryotic (murine) transcriptional elements and a virus-derived posttranscriptional element to build cassettes designed to express a potentially therapeutic gene (interleukin (IL)-10) in large-vessel endothelial cells (ECs) at levels as high as obtained with the cytomegalovirus (CMV) immediate early promoter, while retaining EC specificity. The cassettes were tested by incorporation into helper-dependent adenoviral vectors, and transduction into bovine aortic EC in vitro and rabbit carotid EC in vivo. The murine endothelin-1 promoter showed EC specificity, but expressed only 3% as much IL-10 mRNA as CMV. Inclusion of precisely four copies of an EC-specific enhancer and a posttranscriptional regulatory element increased IL-10 expression to a level at or above the CMV promoter in vivo, while retaining--and possibly enhancing--EC specificity, as measured in vitro. The cassette reported here will likely be useful for maximizing transgene expression in large-vessel EC, while minimizing systemic effects.

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Ryan Flynn’s laboratory is focused on the exploration and discovery of how biopolymers like RNA and glycans work together to control cellular processes in the context of human disease.

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