The Extragenic Spacer Length Between the 5′ and 3′ Ends of the Transgene Expression Cassette Affects Transgene Silencing From Plasmid-based Vectors

1] Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, USA [2] Department of Genetics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, USA.
Molecular Therapy (Impact Factor: 6.23). 05/2012; 20(11). DOI: 10.1038/mt.2012.65
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT In quiescent tissues, minicircle DNA vectors provide at least 10 times higher sustained levels of transgene expression compared to that achieved with a canonical plasmid containing the same expression cassette. It is not known if there is a specific DNA sequence or structure that is needed for DNA silencing. To directly address this question, we substituted the bacterial plasmid DNA with various lengths of extragenic spacer DNAs between the 5' and 3' ends of the transgene expression cassette and determined the expression profiles using two different reporter expression cassettes. Both the human alphoid repeat (AR) and randomly generated DNA sequences of ≥1 kb in length resulted in transgene silencing while shorter spacers, ≤500 bp exhibited similar transgene expression patterns to conventional minicircle DNA vectors. In contrast, when the ≥1 kb random DNA (RD) sequences were expressed as part of the 3'-untranslated region (UTR) transgene silencing was not observed. These data suggest that the length and not the sequence or origin of the extragenic DNA flanking the expression cassette is responsible for plasmid-mediated transgene silencing. This has implications for the design of nonviral vectors for gene transfer applications as well as providing insights into how genes are regulated.

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Available from: Mark A Kay, Jun 28, 2014
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