[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The efficacy of gene therapy mediated by plasmid DNA (pDNA) depends on the selection of suitable vectors and doses. Using hydrodynamic limb vein (HLV) injection to deliver naked pDNA to skeletal muscles of the limbs, we evaluated key parameters that affect expression in muscle from genes encoded in pDNA. Short-term and long-term promoter comparisons demonstrated that kinetics of expression differed between cytomegalovirus (CMV), muscle creatine kinase, and desmin promoters, but all gave stable expression from 2 to 49 weeks after delivery to mouse muscle. Expression from the CMV promoter was highest. For mice, rats, and rhesus monkeys, the linear range for pDNA dose response could be defined by the mass of pDNA relative to the mass of target muscle. Correlation between pDNA dose and expression was linear between a threshold dose of 75 μg/g and maximal expression at approximately 400 μg/g. One HLV injection into rats of a dose of CMV-LacZ yielding maximal expression resulted in an average transfection of 28% of all hind leg muscle and 40% of the gastrocnemius and soleus. Despite an immune reaction to the reporter gene in monkeys, a single injection transfected an average of 10% of all myofibers in the targeted muscle of the arms and legs and an average of 15% of myofibers in the gastrocnemius and soleus.
Human gene therapy 02/2011; 22(7):889-903. DOI:10.1089/hum.2010.160 · 3.76 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The administration route is emerging as a critical aspect of nonviral and viral vector delivery to muscle, so as to enable gene therapy for disorders such as muscular dystrophy. Although direct intramuscular routes were used initially, intravascular routes are garnering interest because of their ability to target multiple muscles at once and to increase the efficiency of delivery and expression. For the delivery of naked plasmid DNA, our group has developed a hydrodynamic, limb vein procedure that entails placing a tourniquet over the proximal part of the target limb to block all blood flow and injecting the gene vector rapidly in a large volume so as to enable the gene vector to be extravasated and to access the myofibers. The present study was conducted in part to optimize the procedure in preparation for a human clinical study. Various injection parameters such as the effect of papaverine preinjection, tourniquet inflation pressure and duration, and rate of injection were evaluated in rats and nonhuman primates. In addition, the safety of the procedure was further established by determining the effect of the procedure on the neuromuscular and vascular systems. The results from these studies provide additional evidence that the procedure is well tolerated and they provide a foundation on which to formulate the procedure for a human clinical study.
Human gene therapy 02/2010; 21(7):829-42. DOI:10.1089/hum.2009.172 · 3.76 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Achieving efficient in vivo delivery of siRNA to the appropriate target cell would be a major advance in the use of RNAi in gene function studies and as a therapeutic modality. Hepatocytes, the key parenchymal cells of the liver, are a particularly attractive target cell type for siRNA delivery given their central role in several infectious and metabolic disorders. We have developed a vehicle for the delivery of siRNA to hepatocytes both in vitro and in vivo, which we have named siRNA Dynamic PolyConjugates. Key features of the Dynamic PolyConjugate technology include a membrane-active polymer, the ability to reversibly mask the activity of this polymer until it reaches the acidic environment of endosomes, and the ability to target this modified polymer and its siRNA cargo specifically to hepatocytes in vivo after simple, low-pressure i.v. injection. Using this delivery technology, we demonstrate effective knockdown of two endogenous genes in mouse liver: apolipoprotein B (apoB) and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (ppara). Knockdown of apoB resulted in clear phenotypic changes that included a significant reduction in serum cholesterol and increased fat accumulation in the liver, consistent with the known functions of apoB. Knockdown of ppara also resulted in a phenotype consistent with its known function, although with less penetrance than observed in apoB knockdown mice. Analyses of serum liver enzyme and cytokine levels in treated mice indicated that the siRNA Dynamic PolyConjugate was nontoxic and well tolerated.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 09/2007; 104(32):12982-7. DOI:10.1073/pnas.0703778104 · 9.67 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The hydrodynamic tail vein (HTV) injection of naked plasmid DNA is a simple yet effective in vivo gene delivery method into hepatocytes. It is increasingly being used as a research tool to elucidate mechanisms of gene expression and the role of genes and their cognate proteins in the pathogenesis of disease in animal models. A greater understanding of its mechanism will aid these efforts and has relevance to macromolecular and nucleic acid delivery in general.
In an attempt to explore how naked DNA enters hepatocytes the fate of a variety of molecules and particles was followed over a 24-h time frame using fluorescence microscopy. The uptake of some of these compounds was correlated with marker gene expression from a co-injected plasmid DNA. In addition, the uptake of the injected compounds was correlated with the histologic appearance of hepatocytes.
Out of the large number of nucleic acids, peptides, proteins, inert polymers and small molecules that we tested, most were efficiently delivered into hepatocytes independently of their size and charge. Even T7 phage and highly charged DNA/protein complexes of 60-100 nm in size were able to enter the cytoplasm. In animals co-injected with an enhanced yellow fluorescent protein (EYFP) expression vector and fluorescently labeled immunoglobulin (IgG), hepatocytes flooded with large amounts of IgG appeared permanently damaged and did not express EYFP-Nuc. Hepatocytes expressing EYFP had only slight IgG uptake. In contrast, when an EYFP expression vector was co-injected with a fluorescently labeled 200-bp linear DNA fragment, both were mostly (in 91% of the observed cells) co-localized to the same hepatocytes 24 h later.
The appearance of permanently damaged cells with increased uptake of some molecules such as endogenous IgG raised the possibility that a molecule could be present in a hepatocyte but its transport would not be indicative of the transport process that can lead to foreign gene expression. The HTV procedure enables the uptake of a variety of molecules (as previous studies also found), but the uptake process for some of these molecules may be associated with a more disruptive process to the hepatocytes that is not compatible with successful gene delivery.
The Journal of Gene Medicine 07/2006; 8(7):852-73. DOI:10.1002/jgm.921 · 2.47 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Despite a lack of success in clinical trials, gene therapy remains a highly promising therapeutic approach for the treatment of peripheral vascular disease. The precise reasons for the poor success rates in the clinical studies remain unclear but it has been postulated that low levels of angiogenic gene transfer and expression may be a primary contributing factor.To address this problem, we have recently developed an intravenous injection procedure that allows for the efficient and widespread delivery of genes (encoded within plasmid DNAs) to skeletal muscle groups of isolated limbs. Using this injection procedure, we have undertaken a systematic study to determine if various angiogenic genes can be expressed at high levels in rat limb muscle in normal and ischemic animals. Angiogenic genes being tested include; vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF165), fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2), hypoxia inducible factor 1 alpha (HIF1a), insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), platelet derived growth factor B (PDGF-B) and Angiopoietin 1 (ANG1). The primary goal of this study is to determine the relative levels and duration of transgene expression that can be obtained in muscle groups of the lower limb following a single intravenous injection. In addition the physiological response to high level angiogenic gene expression is being analyzed for each of the genes individually and in select combinations.Following the injection of 500 micrograms of pDNA encoding human VEGF165 under the control of the CMV promoter/enhancer, extremely high levels of VEGF protein were detected in limb muscle tissue by 1 day post-injection (>1600 pg/mg total protein) while serum levels of VEGF165 remained very low. Histology (H&E staining) and immunohistochemistry analysis indicated that these high levels of VEGF165 expression stimulated a massive proliferation of endothelial cells (cells stained positive for RECA1 marker) within the muscle tissue. As expected however, VEGF165 expression levels were dose dependent with regards to the amount of injected pDNA and when lower levels of pDNA were injected the endothelial cell proliferation could be restricted or prevented. Expression and histology results for all the indicated angiogenic genes will be presented.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: RNA interference (RNAi) has great potential as a tool for studying gene function in mammals. However, the specificity and magnitude of the in vivo response to RNAi remains to be fully characterized. A molecular and phenotypic comparison of a genetic knockout mouse and the corresponding knockdown version would help clarify the utility of the RNAi approach. Here, we used hydrodynamic delivery of small interfering RNA (siRNA) to knockdown peroxisome proliferator activated receptor alpha (Ppara), a gene that is central to the regulation of fatty acid metabolism. We found that Ppara knockdown in the liver results in a transcript profile and metabolic phenotype that is comparable to those of Ppara-/- mice. Combining the profiles from mice treated with the PPARalpha agonist fenofibrate, we confirmed the specificity of the RNAi response and identified candidate genes proximal to PPARalpha regulation. Ppara knockdown animals developed hypoglycemia and hypertriglyceridemia, phenotypes observed in Ppara-/- mice. In contrast to Ppara-/- mice, fasting was not required to uncover these phenotypes. Together, these data validate the utility of the RNAi approach and suggest that siRNA can be used as a complement to classical knockout technology in gene function studies.
Nucleic Acids Research 02/2006; 34(16):4486-94. DOI:10.1093/nar/gkl609 · 9.11 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Gene therapy has great potential to treat or prevent a variety of both genetic and acquired conditions that include neuromuscular disorders, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and infectious diseases. For recessive genetic disorders such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy, delivery of the normal dystrophin gene to muscle should prevent the myofibers from dying. Despite the great promise and sound principles of gene therapy, its application to humans have been hampered by the inability to safely and effectively deliver genes to the target tissues. Among the several gene transfer methods under development, the use of non-viral delivery methods and specifically naked DNA is particularly attractive in that many of the concerns over the use of viral-mediated methods, such as immunogenicity of viral packaging proteins and cost of viral vector production can be avoided. Recently we used limb veins for efficient, repeatable, and safe delivery of nucleic acids to skeletal myofibers throughout the limb muscles of mammals in vivo. Promising results have been obtained in both rodents and larger animals including non-human primates. Studies in the mdx mouse model indicate that the approach should be of use for patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Based upon these encouraging results, a human clinical trial to deliver the human dystrophin gene to patients with DMD is being planned. The initial objective is to preserve hand and forearm function to increase the quality of life.
Acta myologica: myopathies and cardiomyopathies: official journal of the Mediterranean Society of Myology / edited by the Gaetano Conte Academy for the study of striated muscle diseases 01/2006; 24(3):202-8.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We have recently developed a simple and highly efficient methodology for delivering plasmid DNA (pDNA) to skeletal muscle cells of mammalian limbs. The procedure involves the rapid intravascular injection of a large volume of saline (containing pDNA) into the vasculature of the distal limb. As a result of the robust delivery methodology involved, it is important to understand the effects of the injection procedure on the skeletal muscle tissue in the targeted limb. In previous studies, only modest and transient muscle damage was noted. In this study we quantitatively assessed the degree of muscle damage in rat limbs following intravascular injections using muscle histology (H&E staining), membrane integrity (Evans blue staining), and leukocyte infiltration (immunohistochemistry) assays. The rapid extravasation of fluid during the injection process resulted in edema of the muscle tissue of the targeted limb; however, the edema was transient and resolved within 24 h. Consistent with observations from previous studies, minimal levels of myofiber damage were detected. Immunohistochemical labeling indicated that increased numbers of neutrophils (CD43+) and macrophages (ED1+ and ED2+) were present in the muscle tissue interstitium shortly after injection but that elevations were relatively modest and resolved by 2 weeks postinjection.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Delivery is increasingly being recognized as the critical hurdle holding back the tremendous promise of nucleic acid-based therapies that include gene therapy and more recently siRNA-based therapeutics. While numerous candidate genes (and siRNA sequences) with therapeutic potential have been identified, their utility has not yet been realized because of inefficient and/or unsafe delivery technologies. We now describe an intravascular, nonviral methodology that enables efficient and repeatable delivery of nucleic acids to muscle cells (myofibers) throughout the limb muscles of mammals. The procedure involves the injection of naked plasmid DNA or siRNA into a distal vein of a limb that is transiently isolated by a tourniquet or blood pressure cuff. Nucleic acid delivery to myofibers is facilitated by its rapid injection in sufficient volume to enable extravasation of the nucleic acid solution into muscle tissue. High levels of transgene expression in skeletal muscle were achieved in both small and large animals with minimal toxicity. Evidence of siRNA delivery to limb muscle was also obtained. The simplicity, effectiveness, and safety of the procedure make this methodology well suited to limb muscle gene therapy applications.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The tracking of plasmid DNA (pDNA) movement within cells requires the attachment of labels to the DNA in a manner such that: (a) the pDNA remains intact during the labeling process and (b) the labels remain stably attached to the DNA. Keeping these two criteria in mind, we have recently developed a series of alkylating reagents that facilitate the one-step, covalent attachment of compounds directly onto nucleic acids in a nondestructive manner. Using these DNA-alkylating reagents, we have attached a wide range of both fluorescent and nonfluorescent reporter molecules onto pDNAs. We now show that even with the covalent attachment of various marker compounds, the pDNA remains expression competent. The ability to create labeled, expression-competent DNA allows for the simultaneous tracking of both pDNA location and reporter gene expression within living or fixed cells.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The intravenous delivery of plasmid DNA complexed with either cationic lipids (CL) or polyethyleneimine (PEI) enables high levels of foreign gene expression in lung. However, these cationic DNA complexes cause substantial toxicity. The present study found that the inclusion of polyacrylic acid (pAA) with DNA/polycation and DNA/CL complexes prevented the serum inhibition of the transfection complexes in cultured cells. The mechanism mediating this increase seems to involve both particle size enlargement due to flocculation and electrostatic shielding from opsonizing serum proteins. The use of pAA also increased the levels of lung expression in mice in vivo substantially above the levels achieved with just binary complexes of DNA and linear PEI (lPEI) or CL and reduced their toxicity. Also, the use of a "chaser" injection of pAA 30 min after injection of the ternary DNA/lPEI/pAA complexes further aided this effort to reduce toxicity while not affecting foreign gene expression. By optimizing the amount of pAA, lPEI, and DNA within the ternary complexes and using the "chaser" injection, substantial levels of lung expression were obtained while avoiding adverse effects in lung or liver. These developments will aid the use of cationic DNA complexes in animals and for eventual human gene therapy.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: It has recently been shown that RNA interference can be induced in cultured mammalian cells by delivery of short interfering RNAs (siRNAs). Here we describe a method for efficient in vivo delivery of siRNAs to organs of postnatal mice and demonstrate effective and specific inhibition of transgene expression in a variety of organs.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A fluorescent method is described for assessing nuclease activity. The technique is based on the preparation of quenched fluorophore-nucleic acid covalent conjugates and their subsequent dequenching due to degradation by nucleases. The resulting fluorescence increase can be measured by a spectrofluorometer and exhibits subpicogram per milliliter sensitivity level for RNase A and low picogram per milliliter level for DNase I. The method is adaptable for quantitative nuclease inhibitor testing. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: DNA can be condensed with an excess of poly-cations in aqueous solutions forming stable particles of submicron size with positive surface charge. This charge surplus can be used to deposit alternating layers of polyanions and polycations on the surface surrounding the core of condensed DNA. Using poly-L-lysine (PLL) and succinylated PLL (SPLL) as polycation and polyanion, respectively, we demonstrated layer-by-layer architecture of the particles. Polyanions with a shorter carboxyl/backbone distance tend to disassemble binary DNA/PLL complexes by displacing DNA while polyanions with a longer carboxyl/backbone distance effectively formed a tertiary complex. The zeta potential of such complexes became negative, indicating effective surface recharging. The charge stoichiometry of the DNA/PLL/SPLL complex was found to be close to 1:1:1, resembling poly-electrolyte complexes layered on macrosurfaces. Recharged particles containing condensed plasmid DNA may find applications as non-viral gene delivery vectors.
Nucleic Acids Research 09/1999; 27(15):3090-5. DOI:10.1093/nar/27.15.3090 · 9.11 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The assembly of DNA into compact particles that do not aggregate in physiologic salt solution occurs naturally in chromatin and viral particles but has been challenging to duplicate using artificial constructs. Cross-linking amino-containing polycations in the presence of DNA with bisimidoester cross-linker leads to the formation of caged DNA particles that are stable in salt solutions. This first demonstration of caged DNA provides insight into how natural condensation processes avoid aggregation and a promising avenue for developing nonviral gene therapy vectors.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A fluorescent method is proposed for assessing DNA condensation in aqueous solutions with variety of condensing agents. The technique is based on the effect of concentration-dependent self-quenching of covalently bound fluorophores upon DNA collapse. The method allows a more precise determination of charge equivalency in titration experiments with various polycations. The technique's ability to determine the number of DNA molecules that are condensed together in close proximity is under further investigation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The self-assembly of supramolecular complexes of nucleic acids and polymers is of relevance to several biological processes including viral and chromatin formation as well as gene therapy vector design. We now show that template polymerization facilitates condensation of DNA into particles that are <150 nm in diameter. Inclusion of a poly(ethylene glycol)-containing monomer prevents aggregation of these particles. The DNA within the particles remains biologically active and can express foreign genes in cells. The formation or breakage of covalent bonds has until now not been employed to compact DNA into artificial particles.
Nucleic Acids Research 10/1998; 26(18):4178-85. · 9.11 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The nuclear entry of exogenous DNA in mammalian cells is critical for efficient gene transfer. A novel technique was developed for the covalent attachment of cationic peptides to double-stranded DNA using a cyclo-propapyrroloindole cross-linker. The attachment of the SV40 large T antigen nuclear localization signal peptide induced the nuclear accumulation of the conjugated DNA in digitonin-permeabilized cells via the classical pathway for the nuclear transport of karyophilic proteins. Increased nuclear uptake of the modified DNA, however, did not occur after it was microinjected into the cytoplasm of cultured cells. This demonstration that the covalent modification of DNA with a signal peptide alters its behavior and interaction with other cellular factors portends the potential of DNA vector chemistry to enhance the efficiency of cellular gene transfer.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: DNA can enter intact mammalian nuclei with varying degrees of efficiency in both transfected and microinjected cells, yet very little is known about the mechanism by which it crosses the nuclear membrane. Nucleocytoplasmic transport of fluorescently labeled DNA was studied using a digitonin-permeabilized cell system. DNA accumulated in the nucleus with a punctate staining pattern in over 80% of the permeabilized HeLa cells. Nuclear localization of the labeled DNA was energy dependent and occurred through the nuclear pore, but did not require the addition of soluble cytoplasmic protein factors necessary for protein import.