Development of safe and effective nonviral gene therapy by eliminating CpG motifs from plasmid DNA vector.
ABSTRACT Nonviral gene therapy is expected to become a regular treatment for a variety of difficult-to-treat diseases, such as cancer and virus infection. Plasmid DNA, which is used in most nonviral gene delivery systems, usually contains, unmethylated cytosine-guanine dinucleotides, so called CpG motifs. CpG motifs are recognized by immune cells as a danger signal, leading to an inflammatory response. Such inflammatory responses could affect the safety and effectiveness of nonviral gene therapy. Therefore, reducing the number of CpG motifs in plasmid DNA has been used to increase the potency of plasmid DNA-based gene therapy. Previous studies have demonstrated that CpG reduction can extend the time period of transgene expression from plasmid DNA after in vivo gene transfer. In this review, the biological functions of the CpG motif are briefly summarized. Then, safety issues of nonviral gene therapy are discussed from the viewpoint of the inflammatory response to the CpG motif in plasmid DNA, and the effects of the CpG motif in plasmid DNA on the transgene expression profile of nonviral gene transfer are reviewed.