Gene Therapy

Gene Therapy Publications

Berry JL, Polski A, Cavenee WK, Dryja TP, Murphree LA, Gallie BL. The Story: Characterization and Cloning of the First Tumor Suppressor Gene. Genes (Basel) 2019;10(11)Abstract
The gene is the first described human tumor suppressor gene and plays an integral role in the development of retinoblastoma, a pediatric malignancy of the eye. Since its discovery, the stepwise characterization and cloning of have laid the foundation for numerous advances in the understanding of tumor suppressor genes, retinoblastoma tumorigenesis, and inheritance. Knowledge of led to a paradigm shift in the field of cancer genetics, including widespread acceptance of the concept of tumor suppressor genes, and has provided crucial diagnostic and prognostic information through genetic testing for patients affected by retinoblastoma. This article reviews the long history of gene research, characterization, and cloning, and also discusses recent advances in retinoblastoma genetics that have grown out of this foundational work.
Arboleda-Velasquez JF, Lopera F, O'Hare M, Delgado-Tirado S, Marino C, Chmielewska N, Saez-Torres KL, Amarnani D, Schultz AP, Sperling RA, Leyton-Cifuentes D, Chen K, Baena A, Aguillon D, Rios-Romenets S, Giraldo M, Guzmán-Vélez E, Norton DJ, Pardilla-Delgado E, Artola A, Sanchez JS, Acosta-Uribe J, Lalli M, Kosik KS, Huentelman MJ, Zetterberg H, Blennow K, Reiman RA, Luo J, Chen Y, Thiyyagura P, Su Y, Jun GR, Naymik M, Gai X, Bootwalla M, Ji J, Shen L, Miller JB, Kim LA, Tariot PN, Johnson KA, Reiman EM, Quiroz YT. Resistance to autosomal dominant Alzheimer's disease in an APOE3 Christchurch homozygote: a case report. Nat Med 2019;25(11):1680-1683.Abstract
We identified a PSEN1 (presenilin 1) mutation carrier from the world's largest autosomal dominant Alzheimer's disease kindred, who did not develop mild cognitive impairment until her seventies, three decades after the expected age of clinical onset. The individual had two copies of the APOE3 Christchurch (R136S) mutation, unusually high brain amyloid levels and limited tau and neurodegenerative measurements. Our findings have implications for the role of APOE in the pathogenesis, treatment and prevention of Alzheimer's disease.
Amamoto R, Zuccaro E, Curry NC, Khurana S, Chen H-H, Cepko CL, Arlotta P. FIN-Seq: transcriptional profiling of specific cell types from frozen archived tissue of the human central nervous system. Nucleic Acids Res 2019;Abstract
Thousands of frozen, archived tissue samples from the human central nervous system (CNS) are currently available in brain banks. As recent developments in RNA sequencing technologies are beginning to elucidate the cellular diversity present within the human CNS, it is becoming clear that an understanding of this diversity would greatly benefit from deeper transcriptional analyses. Single cell and single nucleus RNA profiling provide one avenue to decipher this heterogeneity. An alternative, complementary approach is to profile isolated, pre-defined cell types and use methods that can be applied to many archived human tissue samples that have been stored long-term. Here, we developed FIN-Seq (Frozen Immunolabeled Nuclei Sequencing), a method that accomplishes these goals. FIN-Seq uses immunohistochemical isolation of nuclei of specific cell types from frozen human tissue, followed by bulk RNA-Sequencing. We applied this method to frozen postmortem samples of human cerebral cortex and retina and were able to identify transcripts, including low abundance transcripts, in specific cell types.
Subramanian S, Maurer AC, Bator CM, Makhov AM, Conway JF, Turner KB, Marden JH, Vandenberghe LH, Hafenstein SL. Filling Adeno-Associated Virus Capsids: Estimating Success by Cryo-Electron Microscopy. Hum Gene Ther 2019;Abstract
Adeno-associated viruses (AAVs) have been employed successfully as gene therapy vectors in treating various genetic diseases for almost two decades. However, transgene packaging is usually imperfect, and developing a rapid and accurate method for measuring the proportion of DNA encapsidation is an important step for improving the downstream process of large scale vector production. In this study, we used two-dimensional class averages and three-dimensional classes, intermediate outputs in the single particle cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) image reconstruction pipeline, to determine the proportion of DNA-packaged and empty capsid populations. Two different preparations of AAV3 were analyzed to estimate the minimum number of particles required to be sampled by cryo-EM in order for robust calculation of the proportion of the full versus empty capsids in any given sample. Cost analysis applied to the minimum amount of data required for a valid ratio suggests that cryo-EM is an effective approach to analyze vector preparations.
Yizhak K, Aguet F, Kim J, Hess JM, Kübler K, Grimsby J, Frazer R, Zhang H, Haradhvala NJ, Rosebrock D, Livitz D, Li X, Arich-Landkof E, Shoresh N, Stewart C, Segrè AV, Branton PA, Polak P, Ardlie KG, Getz G. RNA sequence analysis reveals macroscopic somatic clonal expansion across normal tissues. Science 2019;364(6444)Abstract
How somatic mutations accumulate in normal cells is poorly understood. A comprehensive analysis of RNA sequencing data from ~6700 samples across 29 normal tissues revealed multiple somatic variants, demonstrating that macroscopic clones can be found in many normal tissues. We found that sun-exposed skin, esophagus, and lung have a higher mutation burden than other tested tissues, which suggests that environmental factors can promote somatic mosaicism. Mutation burden was associated with both age and tissue-specific cell proliferation rate, highlighting that mutations accumulate over both time and number of cell divisions. Finally, normal tissues were found to harbor mutations in known cancer genes and hotspots. This study provides a broad view of macroscopic clonal expansion in human tissues, thus serving as a foundation for associating clonal expansion with environmental factors, aging, and risk of disease.
Wang SK, Xue Y, Rana P, Hong CM, Cepko CL. Soluble CX3CL1 gene therapy improves cone survival and function in mouse models of retinitis pigmentosa. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2019;116(20):10140-10149.Abstract
Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a disease that initially presents as night blindness due to genetic deficits in the rod photoreceptors of the retina. Rods then die, causing dysfunction and death of cone photoreceptors, the cell type that mediates high acuity and color vision, ultimately leading to blindness. We investigated immune responses in mouse models of RP and found evidence of microglia activation throughout the period of cone degeneration. Using adeno-associated vectors (AAVs), delivery of genes encoding microglial regulatory signals led to the identification of AAV serotype 8 (AAV8) soluble CX3CL1 (sCX3CL1) as a promising therapy for degenerating cones. Subretinal injection of AAV8-sCX3CL1 significantly prolonged cone survival in three strains of RP mice. Rescue of cones was accompanied by improvements in visual function. AAV8-sCX3CL1 did not affect rod survival, microglia localization, or inflammatory cytokine levels in the retina. Furthermore, although RNA sequencing of microglia demonstrated marked transcriptional changes with AAV8-sCX3CL1, pharmacological depletion of up to ∼99% of microglia failed to abrogate the effect of AAV8-sCX3CL1 on cone survival. These findings indicate that AAV8-sCX3CL1 can rescue cones in multiple mouse models of RP via a pathway that does not require normal numbers of microglia. Gene therapy with sCX3CL1 is a promising mutation-independent approach to preserve vision in RP and potentially other forms of retinal degeneration.
Wu W, Yang Y, Lei H. Progress in the application of CRISPR: From gene to base editing. Med Res Rev 2019;39(2):665-683.Abstract
The system of clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) and CRISPR-associated endonucleases (Cas) has been utilized for genome editing with great accuracy and high efficiency in generating gene knockout, knockin, and point mutations in eukaryotic genomes. However, traditional CRISPR/Cas9 technology introduces double-stranded DNA breaks (DSBs) at a target locus as the first step to make gene corrections, which easily results in undesired mutations. Thus, it is necessary to develop new methods for correcting the unwanted mutations. In this review, we summarize the recent developments and a new approach to genome and base editing by using CRISPR/Cas9. This methodology renders a conversion of one target base into another, for example, C to T (or G to A), and A to G (or T to C) without producing DSBs, requiring a donor DNA template, or generating excessive insertions and deletions. Furthermore, CRISPR/Cas9-derived base editing also improves efficiency in repairing point mutations in the genome.
Tang SM, Lau T, Rong SS, Yazar S, Chen LJ, Mackey DA, Lucas RM, Pang CP, Yam JC. Vitamin D and its pathway genes in myopia: systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Ophthalmol 2019;103(1):8-17.Abstract
OBJECTIVE: To conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of the association of blood vitamin D (25-hydroxyvitamin D, 25(OH)D) concentration and vitamin D pathway genes with myopia. METHODS: We searched the MEDLINE and EMBASE databases for studies published up to 29 January 2018. Cross-sectional or cohort studies which evaluated the blood 25(OH)D concentration, blood 25(OH)D3 concentration or vitamin D pathway genes, in relation to risk of myopia or refractive errors were included. Standard mean difference (SMD) of blood 25(OH)D concentrations between the myopia and non-myopia groups was calculated. The associations of blood 25(OH)D concentrations and polymorphisms in vitamin D pathway genes with myopia using summary ORs were evaluated. RESULTS: We summarised seven studies involving 25 008 individuals in the meta-analysis. The myopia group had lower 25(OH)D concentration than the non-myopia group (SMD=-0.27 nmol/L, p=0.001). In the full analysis, the risk of myopia was inversely associated with blood 25(OH)D concentration after adjusting for sunlight exposure or time spent outdoors (adjusted odds ratio (AOR)=0.92 per 10 nmol/L, p<0.0001). However, the association was not statistically significant for the <18 years subgroup (AOR=0.91 per 10 nmol/L, p=0.13) and was significant only for 25(OH)D3 (likely to be mainly sunlight derived), but not total 25(OH)D (AOR=0.93 per 10 nmol/L, p=0.00007; AOR=0.91 per 10 nmol/L, p=0.15). We analysed four single nucleotide polymorphisms in the VDR gene from two studies; there was no significant association with myopia. CONCLUSIONS: Lower 25(OH)D is associated with increased risk of myopia; the lack of a genetic association suggests that 25(OH)D level may be acting as a proxy for time outdoors.
Manoli I, Sysol JR, Epping MW, Li L, Wang C, Sloan JL, Pass A, Gagné J, Ktena YP, Li L, Trivedi NS, Ouattara B, Zerfas PM, Hoffmann V, Abu-Asab M, Tsokos MG, Kleiner DE, Garone C, Cusmano-Ozog K, Enns GM, Vernon HJ, Andersson HC, Grunewald S, Elkahloun AG, Girard CL, Schnermann J, DiMauro S, Andres-Mateos E, Vandenberghe LH, Chandler RJ, Venditti CP. FGF21 underlies a hormetic response to metabolic stress in methylmalonic acidemia. JCI Insight 2018;3(23)Abstract
Methylmalonic acidemia (MMA), an organic acidemia characterized by metabolic instability and multiorgan complications, is most frequently caused by mutations in methylmalonyl-CoA mutase (MUT). To define the metabolic adaptations in MMA in acute and chronic settings, we studied a mouse model generated by transgenic expression of Mut in the muscle. Mut-/-;TgINS-MCK-Mut mice accurately replicate the hepatorenal mitochondriopathy and growth failure seen in severely affected patients and were used to characterize the response to fasting. The hepatic transcriptome in MMA mice was characterized by the chronic activation of stress-related pathways and an aberrant fasting response when compared with controls. A key metabolic regulator, Fgf21, emerged as a significantly dysregulated transcript in mice and was subsequently studied in a large patient cohort. The concentration of plasma FGF21 in MMA patients correlated with disease subtype, growth indices, and markers of mitochondrial dysfunction but was not affected by renal disease. Restoration of liver Mut activity, by transgenesis and liver-directed gene therapy in mice or liver transplantation in patients, drastically reduced plasma FGF21 and was associated with improved outcomes. Our studies identify mitocellular hormesis as a hepatic adaptation to metabolic stress in MMA and define FGF21 as a highly predictive disease biomarker.
Ikeda Y, Sun Z, Ru X, Vandenberghe LH, Humphreys BD. Efficient Gene Transfer to Kidney Mesenchymal Cells Using a Synthetic Adeno-Associated Viral Vector. J Am Soc Nephrol 2018;29(9):2287-2297.Abstract
BACKGROUND: After injury, mesenchymal progenitors in the kidney interstitium differentiate into myofibroblasts, cells that have a critical role in kidney fibrogenesis. The ability to deliver genetic material to myofibroblast progenitors could allow new therapeutic approaches to treat kidney fibrosis. Preclinical and clinical studies show that adeno-associated viruses (AAVs) efficiently and safely transduce various tissue targets ; however, protocols for transduction of kidney mesenchymal cells have not been established. METHODS: We evaluated the transduction profiles of various pseudotyped AAV vectors expressing either GFP or Cre recombinase reporters in mouse kidney and human kidney organoids. RESULTS: Of the six AAVs tested, a synthetic AAV called Anc80 showed specific and high-efficiency transduction of kidney stroma and mesangial cells. We characterized the cell specificity, dose dependence, and expression kinetics and showed the efficacy of this approach by knocking out Gli2 from kidney mesenchymal cells by injection of Anc80-Cre virus into either homozygous or heterozygous Gli2-floxed mice. After unilateral ureteral obstruction, the homozygous Gli2-floxed mice had less fibrosis than the Gli2 heterozygotes had. We observed the same antifibrotic effect in -catenin-floxed mice injected with Anc80-Cre virus before obstructive injury, strongly supporting a central role for canonical Wnt signaling in kidney myofibroblast activation. Finally, we showed that the Anc80 synthetic virus can transduce the mesenchymal lineage in human kidney organoids. CONCLUSIONS: These studies establish a novel method for inducible knockout of floxed genes in mouse mesangium, pericytes, and perivascular fibroblasts and are the foundation for future gene therapy approaches to treat kidney fibrosis.
Maurer AC, Pacouret S, Cepeda Diaz AK, Blake J, Andres-Mateos E, Vandenberghe LH. The Assembly-Activating Protein Promotes Stability and Interactions between AAV's Viral Proteins to Nucleate Capsid Assembly. Cell Rep 2018;23(6):1817-1830.Abstract
The adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector is a preferred delivery platform for in vivo gene therapy. Natural and engineered variations of the AAV capsid affect a plurality of phenotypes relevant to gene therapy, including vector production and host tropism. Fundamental to these aspects is the mechanism of AAV capsid assembly. Here, the role of the viral co-factor assembly-activating protein (AAP) was evaluated in 12 naturally occurring AAVs and 9 putative ancestral capsid intermediates. The results demonstrate increased capsid protein stability and VP-VP interactions in the presence of AAP. The capsid's dependence on AAP can be partly overcome by strengthening interactions between monomers within the assembly, as illustrated by the transfer of a minimal motif defined by a phenotype-to-phylogeny mapping method. These findings suggest that the emergence of AAP within the Dependovirus genus relaxes structural constraints on AAV assembly in favor of increasing the degrees of freedom for the capsid to evolve.
Di Gioia SA, Shaaban S, Tüysüz B, Elcioglu NH, Chan W-M, Robson CD, Ecklund K, Gilette NM, Hamzaoglu A, Tayfun GA, Traboulsi EI, Engle EC. Recessive MYF5 Mutations Cause External Ophthalmoplegia, Rib, and Vertebral Anomalies. Am J Hum Genet 2018;103(1):115-124.Abstract
MYF5 is member of the Myc-like basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor family and, in cooperation with other myogenic regulatory factors MYOD and MYF5, is a key regulator of early stages of myogenesis. Here, we report three consanguineous families with biallelic homozygous loss-of-function mutations in MYF5 who define a clinical disorder characterized by congenital ophthalmoplegia with scoliosis and vertebral and rib anomalies. The clinical phenotype overlaps strikingly with that reported in several Myf5 knockout mouse models. Affected members of two families share a haploidentical region that contains a homozygous 10 bp frameshift mutation in exon 1 of MYF5 (c.23_32delAGTTCTCACC [p.Gln8Leufs86]) predicted to undergo nonsense-mediated decay. Affected members of the third family harbor a homozygous missense change in exon 1 of MYF5 (c.283C>T [p.Arg95Cys]). Using in vitro assays, we show that this missense mutation acts as a loss-of-function allele by impairing MYF5 DNA binding and nuclear localization. We performed whole-genome sequencing in one affected individual with the frameshift mutation and did not identify additional rare variants in the haploidentical region that might account for differences in severity among the families. These data support the direct role of MYF5 in rib, spine, and extraocular muscle formation in humans.
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.
Carvalho LS, Xiao R, Wassmer SJ, Langsdorf A, Zinn E, Pacouret S, Shah S, Comander JI, Kim LA, Lim L, Vandenberghe LH. Synthetic Adeno-Associated Viral Vector Efficiently Targets Mouse and Nonhuman Primate Retina In Vivo. Hum Gene Ther 2018;29(7):771-784.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. Retinal pigment epithelium 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 retinal pigment epithelium 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 inner nuclear layer 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.

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