HIV‐2 derived lentiviral vectors: Gene transfer in Parkinson's and Fabry disease models in vitro
ABSTRACT Lentiviral vectors are prime candidate vectors for gene transfer into dividing and non-dividing cells, including neuronal cells and stem cells. For safety, HIV-2 lentiviral vectors may be better suited for gene transfer in humans than HIV-1 lentiviral vectors. HIV-2 vectors cross-packaged in HIV-1 cores may be even safer. Demonstration of the efficacy of these vectors in disease models will validate their usefulness. Parkinson's disease and Fabry disease provide excellent models for validation. Parkinson's disease is a focal degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the brain with progressive loss of ability to produce the neurotransmitter dopamine. Current treatment entails administration of increasing doses of L-dopa, with attendant toxicity. We explore here the hypothesis that gene transfer of aromatic acid decarboxylase (AADC), a key enzyme in the pathway, will make neuronal cells more efficiently convert L-dopa into dopamine. Fabry disease on the other hand is a monogenic inherited disease, characterized by α-galactosidase A (AGA) deficiency, resulting in glycolipid accumulation in several cell types, including fibroblasts. Animal models for preclinical investigations of both of these diseases are available. We have designed monocistronic HIV-1 and HIV-2 vectors with the AADC transgene and monocistronic and bicistronic HIV-2 vectors with the AGA and puromycin resistance transgenes. They were packaged with either HIV-2 cores or HIV-1 cores (hybrid vectors). Gene transfer of AADC gene in neuronal cells imparted the ability on the transduced cells to efficiently convert L-dopa into dopamine. Similarly, the AGA vectors induced Fabry fibroblasts to produce high levels of AGA enzyme and caused rapid clearance of the glycolipids from the cells. Both monocistronic and bicistronic vectors were effective. Thus, the insertion of a second gene downstream in the bicistronic vector was not deleterious. In addition, both the self-packaged vectors and the cross-packaged hybrid vectors were effective in gene transfer. J. Med. Virol. 71:173–182, 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.