Retroviral integration provides us with a powerful tool to realize prolonged gene expressions that are often critical to gene therapy. However, the perturbation of gene regulations in host cells by viral genome integration can lead to detrimental effects, yielding cancer. The oncogenic potential of retroviruses is linked to the preference of retroviruses to integrate into genomic regions that are enriched in gene regulatory elements. To better navigate the double-edged sword of retroviral integration we need to understand how retroviruses select their favored genomic loci during infections. In this study I showed that in addition to host proteins that tether retroviral pre-integration complexes to specific genomic regions, the epigenetic architecture of host genome might strongly affect retroviral integration patterns. Specifically, retroviruses showed their characteristic integration preference in differentiated somatic cells. In contrast, retroviral infections of hES cells, which are known to display decondensed chromatin, produced random-like integration patterns lacking of strong preference for regulatory-element-rich genomic regions. Better identification of the cellular and viral factors that determine retroviral integration patterns will facilitate the design of retroviral vectors for safer use in gene therapy.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Lentiviral vectors with self-inactivating (SIN) long terminal repeats (LTRs) are promising for safe and sustained transgene expression in dividing as well as quiescent cells. As genome organization and transcription substantially differs between actively dividing and postmitotic cells in vivo, we hypothesized that genomic vector integration preferences might be distinct between these biological states. We performed integration site (IS) analyses on mouse dividing cells (fibroblasts and hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs)) transduced ex vivo and postmitotic cells (eye and brain) transduced in vivo. As expected, integration in dividing cells occurred preferably into gene coding regions. In contrast, postmitotic cells showed a close to random frequency of integration into genes and gene spare long interspersed nuclear elements (LINE). Our studies on the potential mechanisms responsible for the detected differences of lentiviral integration suggest that the lowered expression level of Psip1 reduce the integration frequency in vivo into gene coding regions in postmitotic cells. The motif TGGAA might represent one of the factors for preferred lentiviral integration into mouse and rat Satellite DNA. These observations are highly relevant for the correct assessment of preclinical biosafety studies, indicating that lentiviral vectors are well suited for safe and effective clinical gene transfer into postmitotic tissues.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Several events of insertional mutagenesis in pre-clinical and clinical gene therapy studies have created intense interest in assessing the genomic insertion profiles of gene therapy vectors. For the construction of such profiles, vector-flanking sequences detected by inverse PCR, linear amplification-mediated-PCR or ligation-mediated-PCR need to be mapped to the host cell's genome and compared to a reference set. Although remarkable progress has been achieved in mapping gene therapy vector insertion sites, public reference sets are lacking, as are the possibilities to quickly detect non-random patterns in experimental data. We developed a tool termed QuickMap, which uniformly maps and analyzes human and murine vector-flanking sequences within seconds (available at www.gtsg.org). Besides information about hits in chromosomes and fragile sites, QuickMap automatically determines insertion frequencies in +/- 250 kb adjacency to genes, cancer genes, pseudogenes, transcription factor and (post-transcriptional) miRNA binding sites, CpG islands and repetitive elements (short interspersed nuclear elements (SINE), long interspersed nuclear elements (LINE), Type II elements and LTR elements). Additionally, all experimental frequencies are compared with the data obtained from a reference set, containing 1 000 000 random integrations ('random set'). Thus, for the first time a tool allowing high-throughput profiling of gene therapy vector insertion sites is available. It provides a basis for large-scale insertion site analyses, which is now urgently needed to discover novel gene therapy vectors with 'safe' insertion profiles.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) can serve as an unlimited cell source for cellular transplantation and tissue engineering due to their prolonged proliferation capacity and their unique ability to differentiate into derivatives of all three-germ layers. In order to reliably and safely produce hESCs, use of reagents that are defined, qualified, and preferably derived from a non-animal source is desirable. Traditionally, mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) have been used as feeder cells to culture undifferentiated hESCs. We recently reported a scalable feeder-free culture system using medium conditioned by MEFs. The base and conditioned medium (CM) still contain unknown bovine and murine-derived components, respectively. In this study, we report the development of a hESC culture system that utilizes a commercially available serum-free medium (SFM) containing human sourced and recombinant proteins supplemented with recombinant growth factor(s) and does not require conditioning with feeder cells. In this system, which employs human laminin coated surface and high concentration of hbFGF, the hESCs maintained undifferentiated hESC morphology and had a twofold increase in expansion compared to hESCs grown in MEF-CM. The hESCs also expressed surface markers SSEA-4 and Tra-1-60 and maintained expression of hTERT, Oct4, and Cripto genes similar to cells cultured in MEF-CM. In addition, hESCs maintained in this culture system were able to differentiate in vitro and in vivo into cells of all three-germ layers. The cells maintained a normal karyotype after prolonged culture in SFM. In summary, this study demonstrates that the hESCs cultured in defined non-conditioned serum-free medium (NC-SFM) supplemented with growth factor(s) retain the characteristics and replicative potential of hESCs. The use of defined culture system with NC-SFM on human laminin simplifies scale-up and allows for reproducible generation of hESCs under defined and controlled conditions that would serve as a starting material for production of hESC derived cells for therapeutic use.
Biotechnology and Bioengineering 09/2005; 91(6):688-98. DOI:10.1002/bit.20536 · 4.13 Impact Factor
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