[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: There have been significant advancements in the field of retinal gene therapy in the past several years. In particular, therapeutic efficacy has been achieved in three separate human clinical trials conducted to assess the ability of adeno-associated viruses (AAV) to treat of a type of Leber’s congenital amaurosis caused by RPE65 mutations. However, despite the success of retinal gene therapy with AAV, challenges remain for delivering large therapeutic genes or genes requiring long DNA regulatory elements for controlling their expression. For example, Stargardt’s disease, a form of juvenile macular degeneration, is caused by defects in ABCA4, a gene that is too large to be packaged in AAV. Therefore, we investigated the ability of helper dependent adenovirus (HD-Ad) to deliver genes to the retina as it has a much larger transgene capacity.
Using an EGFP reporter, our results showed that HD-Ad can transduce the entire retinal epithelium of a mouse using a dose of only 1 x 105 infectious units and maintain transgene expression for at least 4 months. The results demonstrate that HD-Ad has the potential to be an effective vector for the gene therapy of the retina.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Gene therapy has been considered as the most ideal medical intervention for genetic diseases because it is intended to target the cause of diseases instead of disease symptoms. Availability of techniques for identification of genetic mutations and for in vitro manipulation of genes makes it practical and attractive. After the initial hype in 1990s and later disappointments in clinical trials for more than a decade, light has finally come into the tunnel in recent years, especially in the field of eye gene therapy where it has taken big strides. Clinical trials in gene therapy for retinal degenerative diseases such as Leber's congenital amaurosis (LCA) and choroideremia demonstrated clear therapeutic efficacies without apparent side effects. Although these successful examples are still rare and sporadic in the field, they provide the proof of concept for harnessing the power of gene therapy to treat genetic diseases and to modernize our medication. In addition, those success stories illuminate the path for the development of gene therapy treating other genetic diseases. Because of the differences in target organs and cells, distinct barriers to gene delivery exist in gene therapy for each genetic disease. It is not feasible for authors to review the current development in the entire field. Thus, in this article, we will focus on what we can learn from the current success in gene therapy for retinal degenerative diseases to speed up the gene therapy development for lung diseases, such as cystic fibrosis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Airway gene delivery is a promising strategy to treat patients with life-threatening lung diseases such as cystic fibrosis (CF). However, this strategy has to be evaluated in large animal preclinical studies in order to translate it to human applications. Because of anatomic and physiological similarities between the human and pig lungs, we utilized pig as a large animal model to examine the safety and efficiency of airway gene delivery with helper-dependent adenoviral vectors. Helper-dependent vectors carrying human CFTR or reporter gene LacZ were aerosolized intratracheally into pigs under bronchoscopic guidance. We found that the LacZ reporter and hCFTR transgene products were efficiently expressed in lung airway epithelial cells. The transgene vectors with this delivery can also reach to submucosal glands. Moreover, the hCFTR transgene protein localized to the apical membrane of both ciliated and nonciliated epithelial cells, mirroring the location of wild-type CF transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR). Aerosol delivery procedure was well tolerated by pigs without showing systemic toxicity based on the limited number of pigs tested. These results provide important insights into developing clinical strategies for human CF lung gene therapy.Molecular Therapy-Nucleic Acids (2013) 2, e127; doi:10.1038/mtna.2013.55; published online 8 October 2013.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The standard definition of high-risk individuals for lung cancer was not uniform and the value of chest digital radiography (DR) in lung cancer screening was still unproven. The aim of this study was to assess whether the original questionnaire named as "Self-evaluation Scoring Questionnaire for High-risk Individuals of Lung Cancer" combined with DR examinations could detect early stage of lung cancer effectively. The Self-evaluation Scoring Questionnaire for High-risk Individuals of Lung Cancer had been designed in previous studies. Subjects with scores over 116 points were regarded as high-risk individuals and underwent the current DR scans at least once a year from 2007 to 2009. Noncalcified nodules with a diameter over 30 mm, along with enlarged pulmonary hilus and atelectasis, were considered to be positive and subjected to further special examinations. Efficacy of the scoring questionnaire combined with DR scans was estimated by 3-year results. Among 1,537 subjects, 13, 11, and 7 were diagnosed with lung cancer in the first, second, and third year, respectively, indicating the detection rate of 2.02 % (31/1,537). In addition, 77.42 % (24/31) of the patients were in stage I and 51.61 % (16/31) were adenocarcinomas. For the 31 cases, 28 were defined as detected cancers, while the other three were interval ones, only accounting for 0.20 % (3/1,504) of individuals with negative judgments. The protocol of Self-evaluation Scoring Questionnaire for High-risk Individuals of Lung Cancer combined with DR scans is a cost-effective and safe approach to detect early stage of lung cancer.
Journal of Digital Imaging 03/2012; 26(1). · 1.10 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: ZNF403, also known as GGNBP2 (gametogenetin binding protein 2), is a highly conserved gene implicated in spermatogenesis. However, the exact biological function of ZNF403 is not clear. In this study, we identified the role of ZNF403 in cell proliferation and cell-cycle regulation by utilizing short hairpin RNA (shRNA)-mediated knockdown. ZNF403-specific shRNA expressing helper-dependent adenoviral vector (HD-Ad-ZNF403-shRNA) was constructed and transduced human cell lines. ZNF403 mRNA and protein expression levels were inhibited as evidenced by real-time PCR and western blot analyses. Noticeably, we found that knockdown of ZNF403 expression suppressed cell proliferation compared to the non-target shRNA and vector controls. Furthermore, cell-cycle analysis demonstrated that downregulation of ZNF403 promoted G2/M cell-cycle arrest in a dose-dependent manner. Moreover, human cell-cycle real-time PCR array revealed that ZNF403 knockdown influenced the expression profile of genes in cell-cycle regulation. Among these genes, western blot analysis confirmed the protein up-regulation of p21 and down-regulation of MCM2 in response to the ZNF403 knockdown. Additionally, knockdown of ZNF403 also showed an anti-carcinogenetic effect on anchorage-independent growth by colony formation assay and tumor cell migration by wound-healing assay with human laryngeal cancer cell line Hep-2 cells. Altogether, our findings suggest an essential role of ZNF403 in cell proliferation and provide a new insight into the function of ZNF403 in regulating the G2/M cell-cycle transition.
Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry 02/2012; 365(1-2):211-22. · 2.39 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objective: The purpose of this study was to establish a comprehensive evaluation system to assess the risk factors of lung cancer for the general population.Methods: With the method of evidence-based medicine, risk factors of lung cancer were identified and their risk assignments were calculated to design the Self-evaluation Scoring Questionnaire for High-risk Individuals of Lung Cancer. Studies including more than 10 000 subjects were carried the out to confirm the questionnaire's value.Results: The questionnaire consisted of 15 risk factors and their risk assignments, such as sex, age, smoking, female passive smoking, previous illness histories, exposure to harmful gases, mental depression and genetic susceptibility. In the population application, data from 30 lung cancer patients revealed its desired reliability and validity. The next pre-investigation, including 94 patients and 252 controls, confirmed its differentiating power, and encouraged a much larger-scale survey with 2161 subjects to determine the threshold (T) to identify high-risk individuals, the threshold was 116 points. According to this criterion, 1537 high-risk volunteers and 6556 controls were recruited to participate in a 3-year follow-up study from 2007 to 2009. There were 31 cases of lung cancer detected in the high-risk group, with a detection rate of 2.02%, significantly higher than that of the controls (5/6556, 0.08%), indicating an excellent predictive value of the questionnaire.Conclusions: The Self-evaluation Scoring Questionnaire for High-risk Individuals of Lung Cancer was a good means for evaluating the risks of lung cancer.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: After two decades of ups and downs, gene therapy has recently achieved a milestone in treating patients with Leber's congenital amaurosis (LCA). LCA is a group of inherited blinding diseases with retinal degeneration and severe vision loss in early infancy. Mutations in several genes, including RPE65, cause the disease. Using adeno-associated virus as a vector, three independent teams of investigators have recently shown that RPE65 can be delivered to retinal pigment epithelial cells of LCA patients by subretinal injections resulting in clinical benefits without side effects. However, considering the whole field of gene therapy, there are still major obstacles to clinical applications for other diseases. These obstacles include innate and immune barriers to vector delivery, toxicity of vectors and the lack of sustained therapeutic gene expression. Therefore, new strategies are needed to overcome these hurdles for achieving safe and effective gene therapy. In this article, we shall review the major advancements over the past two decades and, using lung gene therapy as an example, discuss the current obstacles and possible solutions to provide a roadmap for future gene therapy research.
Protein & Cell 12/2011; 2(12):973-89. · 3.22 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Genetic mutations in several ubiquitously expressed RNA splicing genes such as PRPF3, PRP31 and PRPC8, have been found to cause retina-specific diseases in humans. To understand this intriguing phenomenon, most studies have been focused on testing two major hypotheses. One hypothesis assumes that these mutations interrupt retina-specific interactions that are important for RNA splicing, implying that there are specific components in the retina interacting with these splicing factors. The second hypothesis suggests that these mutations have only a mild effect on the protein function and thus affect only the metabolically highly active cells such as retinal photoreceptors.
We examined the second hypothesis using the PRPF3 gene as an example. We analyzed the spatial and temporal expression of the PRPF3 gene in mice and found that it is highly expressed in retinal cells relative to other tissues and its expression is developmentally regulated. In addition, we also found that PRP31 and PRPC8 as well as snRNAs are highly expressed in retinal cells.
Our data suggest that the retina requires a relatively high level of RNA splicing activity for optimal tissue-specific physiological function. Because the RP18 mutation has neither a debilitating nor acute effect on protein function, we suggest that retinal degeneration is the accumulative effect of decades of suboptimal RNA splicing due to the mildly impaired protein.
PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(1):e15860. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study describes the successful delivery of helper-dependent adenoviral vectors to the mouse retina with long term and robust levels of reporter expression in the retina without apparent adverse effects. Since these vectors have a large cloning capacity, they have great potential to extend the success of gene therapy achieved using the adeno-associated viral vector.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Clinical studies have shown that gene therapy is a promising approach for treating such genetic diseases as the eye disease, Leber's congenital amaurosis. Development of gene therapy approaches for treating chronic inflammatory diseases is, however, more challenging because it requires the production of anti-inflammatory molecules at the diseased tissues only when they are needed.
We designed such a system by modifying the human interleukin (IL)-6 gene promoter to direct transgene expression and delivered the system into cultured cells as well as mouse lungs using a helper-dependent adenoviral vector.
We have demonstrated both in vitro and in vivo that the reporter LacZ or human IL-10 gene can be induced by inflammatory stimuli.
The results obtained indicate that the inflammation inducible gene expression system based on the modified human IL-6 gene promoter has the potential to be used for developing gene therapy for treating inflammatory diseases.
The Journal of Gene Medicine 10/2010; 12(10):832-9. · 1.95 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Airway inflammation is the hallmark of many respiratory disorders, such as asthma and cystic fibrosis. Changes in airway gene expression triggered by inflammation play a key role in the pathogenesis of these diseases. Genetic linkage studies suggest that ESE-2 and ESE-3, which encode epithelium-specific Ets-domain-containing transcription factors, are candidate asthma susceptibility genes. We report here that the expression of another member of the Ets family transcription factors ESE-1, as well as ESE-3, is upregulated by the inflammatory cytokines interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) in bronchial epithelial cell lines. Treatment of these cells with IL-1beta and TNF-alpha resulted in a dramatic increase in mRNA expression for both ESE-1 and ESE-3. We demonstrate that the induced expression is mediated by activation of the transcription factor NF-kappaB. We have characterized the ESE-1 and ESE-3 promoters and have identified the NF-kappaB binding sequences that are required for the cytokine-induced expression. In addition, we also demonstrate that ESE-1 upregulates ESE-3 expression and downregulates its own induction by cytokines. Finally, we have shown that in Elf3 (homologous to human ESE-1) knockout mice, the expression of the inflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) is downregulated. Our findings suggest that ESE-1 and ESE-3 play an important role in airway inflammation.
Cell Research 07/2008; 18(6):649-63. · 11.98 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In spite of the extensive research in the field of gene therapy, host immune responses continue to be the major barrier in translating basic research to clinical practice. Helper-dependent adenoviral (HD-Ad) vectors show great potential for pulmonary gene therapy, but the knowledge of pulmonary immune responses toward these vectors is very limited. In this study, we show that HD-Ad vectors are potent stimulators of dendritic cell (DC) maturation, thus leading to stimulation of T cell proliferation with approximately 6% of naive CD4(+) T cells from pulmonary mediastinal lymph node responding to HD-Ad-treated DCs. In contrast to the belief that HD-Ad vectors are unable to prime adaptive immune response, we show for the first time, through in vivo pulmonary studies in mice, that HD-Ad vectors can prime CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cell responses in the lung at high and substantially low doses. This indicates cross-presentation of HD-Ad-derived epitopes by DCs to prime CD8(+) T cell responses. To assess the basis of pulmonary T cell response against HD-Ad vectors, we examined the response of conventional DCs (cDCs) and plasmacytoid DCs (pDCs) in the lung. In response to HD-Ad delivery, there is induction of maturation in both cDC and pDC subsets, but it is the cDCs, not pDCs, that migrate rapidly to draining lymph nodes within the first 2 days after vector delivery to prime adaptive immune response against these vectors. These findings have implications for development of strategies to prevent adaptive immune responses against gene therapy vectors.
The Journal of Immunology 04/2008; 180(6):4098-108. · 5.36 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mutations in PRPF3, a gene encoding the essential pre-mRNA splicing factor Hprp3p, have been identified in patients with autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa type 18 (RP18). Patients with RP18 have one of two single amino acid substitutions, Pro493Ser or Thr494Met, at the highly conserved Hprp3p C-terminal region. Pro493Ser occurs sporadically, whereas Thr494Met is observed in several unlinked RP families worldwide. The latter mutation also alters a potential recognition motif for phosphorylation by casein kinase II (CKII). To understand the molecular basis of RP18, we examined the consequences of Thr494Met mutation on Hprp3p molecular interactions with components of the U4/U6.U5 small nuclear ribonucleoprotein particles (snRNPs) complex. Since numerous mutations causing human diseases change pre-mRNA splice sites, we investigated whether Thr494Met substitution affects the processing of PRPF3 mRNA. We found that Thr494Met does not affect PRPF3 mRNA processing, indicating that the mutation may exert its effect primarily at the protein level. We used small hairpin RNAs to specifically silence the endogenous PRPF3 while simultaneously expressing HA-tagged Thr494Met. We demonstrated that the C- but not N-terminal region of Hprp3p is indeed phosphorylated by CKII in vitro and in cells. CKII-mediated Hprp3p phosphorylation was significantly reduced by Thr494Met mutation. Consequently, the Hprp3p C-terminal region is rendered partially defective in its association with itself, Hprp4p, and U4/U6 snRNA. Our findings provide new insights into the biology of Hprp3p and suggest that the loss of Hprp3p phosphorylation at Thr494 is a key step for initiating Thr494Met aberrant interactions within U4/U6 snRNP complex and that these are likely linked to the RP18 phenotype.
Human Molecular Genetics 02/2008; 17(2):225-39. · 6.68 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Innate immune responses form the first line of defense against foreign insults and recently significant advances have been made in our understanding of the initiation of innate immune response along with its ability to modulate inflammation. In airway diseases such as asthma, COPD and cystic fibrosis, over reacting of the airway innate immune responses leads to cytokine imbalance and airway remodeling or damage. Helper-dependent adenoviral vectors have the potential to deliver genes to modulate airway innate immune responses and have many advantages over its predecessors. However, there still are a few limitations that need to be addressed prior to their use in clinical applications.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Our progress in understanding mammalian gene function has lagged behind that of gene identification. New methods for mammalian gene functional analysis are needed to accelerate the process. In yeast, the powerful genetic shuffle system allows deletion of any chromosomal gene by homologous recombination and episomal expression of a mutant allele in the same cell. Here, we report a method for mammalian cells, which employs a helper-dependent adenoviral (HD-Ad) vector to synthesize small hairpin (sh) RNAs to knock-down the expression of an endogenous gene by targeting untranslated regions (UTRs). The vector simultaneously expresses an exogenous version of the same gene (wild-type or mutant allele) lacking the UTRs for functional analysis. We demonstrated the utility of the method by using PRPF3, which encodes the human RNA splicing factor Hprp3p. Recently, missense mutations in PRPF3 were found to cause autosomal-dominant Retinitis Pigmentosa, a form of genetic eye diseases affecting the retina. We knocked-down endogenous PRPF3 in multiple cell lines and rescued the phenotype (cell death) with exogenous PRPF3 cDNA, thereby creating a genetic complementation method. Because Ad vectors can efficiently transduce a wide variety of cell types, and many tissues in vivo, this method could have a wide application for gene function studies.
Nucleic Acids Research 02/2005; 33(10):e94. · 8.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Adenovirus-based vectors are promising vehicles for gene replacement therapy due to their ability to efficiently transduce a wide variety of proliferating and non-proliferating cells. Over the past decade, different versions of adenoviral vectors (Ads) have been developed. These vectors can be classified into two major categories, based on whether the viral coding sequences are partially (first or second-generation Ads) or completely deleted (helper-dependent or gutted Ads). Both types of Ads have been tested in a variety of gene delivery studies, and major obstacles to their clinical application have been identified. Currently, innate and adaptive host immune responses to Ads remain major challenges, limiting both the initial viral dose and the effectiveness of subsequent administrations. Recent developments in vector design and delivery methods have improved the potential of Ads for successful gene therapy application.