Gene Therapy

Gene Therapy Publications

Strainiene E, Binkis M, Urnikyte S, Stankevicius V, Sasnauskiene A, Kundrotas G, Kazlauskas A, Suziedelis K. Microenvironment dependent gene expression signatures in reprogrammed human colon normal and cancer cell lines. BMC Cancer 2018;18(1):222.Abstract
BACKGROUND: Since the first evidence suggesting existence of stem-like cancer cells, the process of cells reprogramming to the stem cell state remains as an attractive tool for cancer stemness research. Current knowledge in the field of cancer stemness, indicates that the microenvironment is a fundamental regulator of cell behavior. With regard to this, we investigated the changes of genome wide gene expression in reprogrammed human colon normal epithelial CRL-1831 and colon carcinoma DLD1 cell lines grown under more physiologically relevant three-dimensional (3D) cell culture microenvironment compared to 2D monolayer. METHODS: Whole genome gene expression changes were evaluated in both cell lines cultured under 3D conditions over a 2D monolayer by gene expression microarray analysis. To evaluate the biological significance of gene expression changes, we performed pathway enrichment analysis using the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) database. Gene network analysis was used to study relationships between differentially expressed genes (DEGs) in functional categories by the GeneMANIA Cytoscape toolkit. RESULTS: In total, we identified 3228 and 2654 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) for colon normal and cancer reprogrammed cell lines, respectively. Furthermore, the expression of 1097 genes was commonly regulated in both cell lines. KEGG enrichment analysis revealed that in total 129 and 101 pathways for iPSC-CRL-1831 and for CSC-DLD1, respectively, were enriched. Next, we grouped these pathways into three functional categories: cancer transformation/metastasis, cell interaction, and stemness. β-catenin (CTNNB1) was confirmed as a hub gene of all three functional categories. CONCLUSIONS: Our present findings suggest common pathways between reprogrammed human colon normal epithelium (iPSC-CRL-1831) and adenocarcinoma (CSC-DLD1) cells grown under 3D microenvironment. In addition, we demonstrated that pathways important for cancer transformation and tumor metastatic activity are altered both in normal and cancer stem-like cells during the transfer from 2D to 3D culture conditions. Thus, we indicate the potential of cell culture models enriched in normal and cancer stem-like cells for the identification of new therapeutic targets in cancer treatment.
Dudek AM, Pillay S, Puschnik AS, Nagamine CM, Cheng F, Qiu J, Carette JE, Vandenberghe LH. An Alternate Route for Adeno-associated Virus (AAV) Entry Independent of AAV Receptor. J Virol 2018;92(7)Abstract
Determinants and mechanisms of cell attachment and entry steer adeno-associated virus (AAV) in its utility as a gene therapy vector. Thus far, a systematic assessment of how diverse AAV serotypes engage their proteinaceous receptor AAVR (KIAA0319L) to establish transduction has been lacking, despite potential implications for cell and tissue tropism. Here, a large set of human and simian AAVs as well as -reconstructed ancestral AAV capsids were interrogated for AAVR usage. We identified a distinct AAV capsid lineage comprised of AAV4 and AAVrh32.33 that can bind and transduce cells in the absence of AAVR, independent of the multiplicity of infection. Virus overlay assays and rescue experiments in nonpermissive cells demonstrate that these AAVs are unable to bind to or use the AAVR protein for entry. Further evidence for a distinct entry pathway was observed , as AAVR knockout mice were equally as permissive to transduction by AAVrh32.33 as wild-type mice upon systemic injection. We interestingly observe that some AAV capsids undergo a low level of transduction in the absence of AAVR, both and , suggesting that some capsids may have a multimodal entry pathway. In aggregate, our results demonstrate that AAVR usage is conserved among all primate AAVs except for those of the AAV4 lineage, and a non-AAVR pathway may be available to other serotypes. This work furthers our understanding of the entry of AAV, a vector system of broad utility in gene therapy. Adeno-associated virus (AAV) is a nonpathogenic virus that is used as a vehicle for gene delivery. Here, we have identified several situations in which transduction is retained in both cell lines and a mouse model in the absence of a previously defined entry receptor, AAVR. Defining the molecular determinants of the infectious pathway of this highly relevant viral vector system can help refine future applications and therapies with this vector.
Carvalho LS, Xiao R, Wassmer S, Langsdorf A, Zinn E, Pacouret S, Shah S, Comander JI, Kim L, Lim L, Vandenberghe LH. Synthetic adeno-associated viral vector efficiently targets mouse and non-human primate retina in vivo. Hum Gene Ther 2018;Abstract
Gene therapy is a promising approach in the treatment of inherited and common complex disorders of the retina. Preclinical and clinical studies have validated the use of adeno-associated viral vectors (AAV) as a safe and efficient delivery vehicle for gene transfer. RPE and rods, and to a lesser extent, cone photoreceptors can be efficiently targeted with AAV. Other retinal cell types however are more challenging targets. The aim of this study was to characterize the transduction profile and efficiency of in silico designed, synthetic Anc80 AAVs for retinal gene transfer. Three Anc80 variants were evaluated for retinal targeting in mice and primates following subretinal delivery. In the murine retina Anc80L65 demonstrated high level of RPE and photoreceptor targeting with comparable cone photoreceptor affinity compared to other AAVs. Remarkably, Anc80L65 enhanced transduction kinetics with visible expression as early as day 1 and steady state mRNA levels at day 3. Inner retinal tropism of Anc80 variants demonstrated distinct transduction patterns of Müller glia, retinal ganglion cells and INL neurons. Finally, murine findings with Anc80L65 qualitatively translated to the Rhesus macaque in terms of cell targets, levels and onset of expression. Our findings support the use of Anc80L65 for therapeutic subretinal gene delivery.
Tao Y, Huang M, Shu Y, Ruprecht A, Wang H, Tang Y, Vandenberghe LH, Wang Q, Gao G, Kong W-J, Chen Z-Y. Delivery of Adeno-Associated Virus Vectors in Adult Mammalian Inner-Ear Cell Subtypes Without Auditory Dysfunction. Hum Gene Ther 2018;29(4):492-506.Abstract
Hearing loss, including genetic hearing loss, is one of the most common forms of sensory deficits in humans with limited options of treatment. Adeno-associated virus (AAV)-mediated gene transfer has been shown to recover auditory functions effectively in mouse models of genetic deafness when delivered at neonatal stages. However, the mouse cochlea is still developing at those time points, whereas in humans, the newborn inner ears are already fully mature. For effective gene therapy to treat genetic deafness, it is necessary to determine whether AAV-mediated therapy can be equally effective in the fully mature mouse inner ear without causing damage to the inner ear. This study tested several AAV serotypes by canalostomy in adult mice. It is shown that most AAVs transduce the sensory inner hair cells efficiently, but are less efficient at transducing outer hair cells. A subset of AAVs also transduces non-sensory cochlear cell types. Neither the surgical procedure of canalostomy nor the AAV serotypes damage hair cells or impair normal hearing. The studies indicate that canalostomy can be a viable route for safe and efficient gene delivery, and they expand the repertoire of AAVs to target diverse cell types in the adult inner ear.
Richarme G, Liu C, Mihoub M, Abdallah J, Leger T, Joly N, Liebart J-C, Jurkunas UV, Nadal M, Bouloc P, Dairou J, Lamouri A. Guanine glycation repair by DJ-1/Park7 and its bacterial homologs. Science 2017;357(6347):208-211.Abstract
DNA damage induced by reactive carbonyls (mainly methylglyoxal and glyoxal), called DNA glycation, is quantitatively as important as oxidative damage. DNA glycation is associated with increased mutation frequency, DNA strand breaks, and cytotoxicity. However, in contrast to guanine oxidation repair, how glycated DNA is repaired remains undetermined. Here, we found that the parkinsonism-associated protein DJ-1 and its bacterial homologs Hsp31, YhbO, and YajL could repair methylglyoxal- and glyoxal-glycated nucleotides and nucleic acids. DJ-1-depleted cells displayed increased levels of glycated DNA, DNA strand breaks, and phosphorylated p53. Deglycase-deficient bacterial mutants displayed increased levels of glycated DNA and RNA and exhibited strong mutator phenotypes. Thus, DJ-1 and its prokaryotic homologs constitute a major nucleotide repair system that we name guanine glycation repair.
Olivares AM, Han Y, Soto D, Flattery K, Marini J, Molemma N, Haider A, Escher P, Deangelis MM, Haider NB. The nuclear hormone receptor gene Nr2c1 (Tr2) is a critical regulator of early retina cell patterning. Dev Biol 2017;429(1):343-355.Abstract
Nuclear hormone receptors play a major role in the development of many tissues. This study uncovers a novel role for testicular receptor 2 (Tr2, Nr2c1) in defining the early phase of retinal development and regulating normal retinal cell patterning and topography. The mammalian retina undergoes an overlapping yet biphasic period of development to generate all seven retinal cell types. We discovered that Nr2c1 expression coincides with development of the early retinal cells. Loss of Nr2c1 causes a severe vision deficit and impacts early, but not late retina cell types. Retinal cone cell topography is disrupted with an increase in displaced amacrine cells. Additionally, genetic background significantly impacts phenotypic outcome of cone photoreceptor cells but not amacrine cells. Chromatin-IP experiments reveal NR2C1 regulates early cell transcription factors that regulate retinal progenitor cells during development, including amacrine (Satb2) and cone photoreceptor regulators thyroid and retinoic acid receptors. This study supports a role for Nr2c1 in defining the biphasic period of retinal development and specifically influencing the early phase of retinal cell fate.
Pan B, Askew C, Galvin A, Heman-Ackah S, Asai Y, Indzhykulian AA, Jodelka FM, Hastings ML, Lentz JJ, Vandenberghe LH, Holt JR, Géléoc GS. Gene therapy restores auditory and vestibular function in a mouse model of Usher syndrome type 1c. Nat Biotechnol 2017;35(3):264-272.Abstract

Because there are currently no biological treatments for hearing loss, we sought to advance gene therapy approaches to treat genetic deafness. We focused on Usher syndrome, a devastating genetic disorder that causes blindness, balance disorders and profound deafness, and studied a knock-in mouse model, Ush1c c.216G>A, for Usher syndrome type IC (USH1C). As restoration of complex auditory and balance function is likely to require gene delivery systems that target auditory and vestibular sensory cells with high efficiency, we delivered wild-type Ush1c into the inner ear of Ush1c c.216G>A mice using a synthetic adeno-associated viral vector, Anc80L65, shown to transduce 80-90% of sensory hair cells. We demonstrate recovery of gene and protein expression, restoration of sensory cell function, rescue of complex auditory function and recovery of hearing and balance behavior to near wild-type levels. The data represent unprecedented recovery of inner ear function and suggest that biological therapies to treat deafness may be suitable for translation to humans with genetic inner ear disorders.

Landegger LD, Pan B, Askew C, Wassmer SJ, Gluck SD, Galvin A, Taylor R, Forge A, Stankovic KM, Holt JR, Vandenberghe LH. A synthetic AAV vector enables safe and efficient gene transfer to the mammalian inner ear. Nat Biotechnol 2017;35(3):280-284.Abstract

Efforts to develop gene therapies for hearing loss have been hampered by the lack of safe, efficient, and clinically relevant delivery modalities. Here we demonstrate the safety and efficiency of Anc80L65, a rationally designed synthetic vector, for transgene delivery to the mouse cochlea. Ex vivo transduction of mouse organotypic explants identified Anc80L65 from a set of other adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors as a potent vector for the cochlear cell targets. Round window membrane injection resulted in highly efficient transduction of inner and outer hair cells in mice, a substantial improvement over conventional AAV vectors. Anc80L65 round window injection was well tolerated, as indicated by sensory cell function, hearing and vestibular function, and immunologic parameters. The ability of Anc80L65 to target outer hair cells at high rates, a requirement for restoration of complex auditory function, may enable future gene therapies for hearing and balance disorders.


PURPOSE: Inherited retinal dystrophies are a significant cause of vision loss and are characterized by the loss of photoreceptors and the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). Mutations in approximately 250 genes cause inherited retinal degenerations with a high degree of genetic heterogeneity. New techniques in next-generation sequencing are allowing the comprehensive analysis of all retinal disease genes thus changing the approach to the molecular diagnosis of inherited retinal dystrophies. This review serves to analyze clinical progress in genetic diagnostic testing and implications for retinal gene therapy. METHODS: A literature search of PubMed and OMIM was conducted to relevant articles in inherited retinal dystrophies. RESULTS: Next-generation genetic sequencing allows the simultaneous analysis of all the approximately 250 genes that cause inherited retinal dystrophies. Reported diagnostic rates range are high and range from 51% to 57%. These new sequencing tools are highly accurate with sensitivities of 97.9% and specificities of 100%. Retinal gene therapy clinical trials are underway for multiple genes including RPE65, ABCA4, CHM, RS1, MYO7A, CNGA3, CNGB3, ND4, and MERTK for which a molecular diagnosis may be beneficial for patients. CONCLUSION: Comprehensive next-generation genetic sequencing of all retinal dystrophy genes is changing the paradigm for how retinal specialists perform genetic testing for inherited retinal degenerations. Not only are high diagnostic yields obtained, but mutations in genes with novel clinical phenotypes are also identified. In the era of retinal gene therapy clinical trials, identifying specific genetic defects will increasingly be of use to identify patients who may enroll in clinical studies and benefit from novel therapies.

Arendt D, Musser JM, Baker CVH, Bergman A, Cepko C, Erwin DH, Pavlicev M, Schlosser G, Widder S, Laubichler MD, Wagner GP. The origin and evolution of cell types. Nat Rev Genet 2016;17(12):744-757.Abstract

Cell types are the basic building blocks of multicellular organisms and are extensively diversified in animals. Despite recent advances in characterizing cell types, classification schemes remain ambiguous. We propose an evolutionary definition of a cell type that allows cell types to be delineated and compared within and between species. Key to cell type identity are evolutionary changes in the 'core regulatory complex' (CoRC) of transcription factors, that make emergent sister cell types distinct, enable their independent evolution and regulate cell type-specific traits termed apomeres. We discuss the distinction between developmental and evolutionary lineages, and present a roadmap for future research.

Ramachandran P, Lee V, Wei Z, Song JY, Casal G, Cronin T, Willett K, Huckfeldt R, Morgan JIW, Aleman TS, Maguire AM, Bennett J. Evaluation of dose and safety of AAV7m8 and AAV8BP2 in the non-human primate retina. Hum Gene Ther 2016;Abstract

Within the next decade, we will see many gene therapy clinical trials for eye diseases progress, which may lead to treatments for thousands of visually impaired people around the world. To target retinal diseases that affect specific cell types, several recombinant adeno-associated virus (AAV) serotypes have been generated and used successfully in pre-clinical mouse studies. Because there are numerous anatomic, and physiologic differences between the eyes of mice and 'men' and because surgical delivery approaches and immunologic responses also differ between these species, we evaluated the transduction characteristics of two promising new serotypes AAV7m8 and AAV8BP2, in retinas of animals that are most similar to those of humans: non-human primates (NHPs). We report that while AAV7m8 efficiently targets a variety of cell types by subretinal injection in NHPs, transduction after intravitreal delivery was mostly restricted to the inner retina at lower doses that did not induce an immune response. AAV8BP2 targets the cone photoreceptors efficiently but bipolar cells inefficiently by subretinal injection. Additionally, we observed transduction of both serotypes in the anterior chamber of the eye and the optic pathway of the brain post intravitreal delivery. Finally, we assessed immunogenicity, keeping in mind that these AAV capsids may be used in future clinical trials. We found that AAV8BP2 had a better safety profile compared to AAV7m8 even at the highest doses administered. Our studies underscore the differences in AAV transduction between mice and primates highlighting the importance of careful evaluation of therapeutic vectors in NHPs prior to moving into clinical trials.

Shekhar K, Lapan SW, Whitney IE, Tran NM, Macosko EZ, Kowalczyk M, Adiconis X, Levin JZ, Nemesh J, Goldman M, McCarroll SA, Cepko CL, Regev A, Sanes JR. Comprehensive Classification of Retinal Bipolar Neurons by Single-Cell Transcriptomics. Cell 2016;166(5):1308-1323.e30.Abstract

Patterns of gene expression can be used to characterize and classify neuronal types. It is challenging, however, to generate taxonomies that fulfill the essential criteria of being comprehensive, harmonizing with conventional classification schemes, and lacking superfluous subdivisions of genuine types. To address these challenges, we used massively parallel single-cell RNA profiling and optimized computational methods on a heterogeneous class of neurons, mouse retinal bipolar cells (BCs). From a population of ∼25,000 BCs, we derived a molecular classification that identified 15 types, including all types observed previously and two novel types, one of which has a non-canonical morphology and position. We validated the classification scheme and identified dozens of novel markers using methods that match molecular expression to cell morphology. This work provides a systematic methodology for achieving comprehensive molecular classification of neurons, identifies novel neuronal types, and uncovers transcriptional differences that distinguish types within a class.

Tang JCY, Drokhlyansky E, Etemad B, Rudolph S, Guo B, Wang S, Ellis EG, Li JZ, Cepko CL. Detection and manipulation of live antigen-expressing cells using conditionally stable nanobodies. Elife 2016;5Abstract

The ability to detect and/or manipulate specific cell populations based upon the presence of intracellular protein epitopes would enable many types of studies and applications. Protein binders such as nanobodies (Nbs) can target untagged proteins (antigens) in the intracellular environment. However, genetically expressed protein binders are stable regardless of antigen expression, complicating their use for applications that require cell-specificity. Here, we created a conditional system in which the stability of an Nb depends upon an antigen of interest. We identified Nb framework mutations that can be used to rapidly create destabilized Nbs. Fusion of destabilized Nbs to various proteins enabled applications in living cells, such as optogenetic control of neural activity in specific cell types in the mouse brain, and detection of HIV-infected human cells by flow cytometry. These approaches are generalizable to other protein binders, and enable the rapid generation of single-polypeptide sensors and effectors active in cells expressing specific intracellular proteins.

Garanto A, Chung DC, Duijkers L, Corral-Serrano JC, Messchaert M, Xiao R, Bennett J, Vandenberghe LH, Collin RWJ. In vitro and in vivo rescue of aberrant splicing in CEP290-associated LCA by antisense oligonucleotide delivery. Hum Mol Genet 2016;Abstract

Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA) is a severe disorder resulting in visual impairment usually starting in the first year of life. The most frequent genetic cause of LCA is an intronic mutation in CEP290 (c.2991+1655A>G) that creates a cryptic splice donor site resulting in the insertion of a pseudoexon (exon X) into CEP290 mRNA. Previously, we showed that naked antisense oligonucleotides (AONs) effectively restored normal CEP290 splicing in patient-derived lymphoblastoid cells. We here explore the therapeutic potential treatment of naked and AAV-packaged AONs in vitro and in vivo In both cases, AON delivery fully restored CEP290 pre-mRNA splicing, significantly increased CEP290 protein levels and rescued a ciliary phenotype present in patient-derived fibroblast cells. Moreover, administration of naked and AAV-packaged AONs to the retina of a humanized mutant Cep290 mouse model, carrying the intronic mutation, showed a statistically significant reduction of exon X-containing Cep290 transcripts, without compromising the retinal structure. Together, our data highlight the tremendous therapeutic prospective of AONs for the treatment of not only CEP290-associated LCA but potentially many other subtypes of retinal dystrophy caused by splicing mutations.

Beier KT, Mundell NA, Pan AY, Cepko CL. Anterograde or Retrograde Transsynaptic Circuit Tracing in Vertebrates with Vesicular Stomatitis Virus Vectors. Curr Protoc Neurosci 2016;74:1.26.1-1.26.27.Abstract

Viruses have been used as transsynaptic tracers, allowing one to map the inputs and outputs of neuronal populations, due to their ability to replicate in neurons and transmit in vivo only across synaptically connected cells. To date, their use has been largely restricted to mammals. In order to explore the use of such viruses in an expanded host range, we tested the transsynaptic tracing ability of recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (rVSV) vectors in a variety of organisms. Successful infection and gene expression were achieved in a wide range of organisms, including vertebrate and invertebrate model organisms. Moreover, rVSV enabled transsynaptic tracing of neural circuitry in predictable directions dictated by the viral envelope glycoprotein (G), derived from either VSV or rabies virus (RABV). Anterograde and retrograde labeling, from initial infection and/or viral replication and transmission, was observed in Old and New World monkeys, seahorses, jellyfish, zebrafish, chickens, and mice. These vectors are widely applicable for gene delivery, afferent tract tracing, and/or directional connectivity mapping. Here, we detail the use of these vectors and provide protocols for propagating virus, changing the surface glycoprotein, and infecting multiple organisms using several injection strategies. © 2016 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.