Bernhard Gentner

San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milano, Lombardy, Italy

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Publications (24)280.2 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Regulated transgene expression may improve safety and efficacy of hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) gene therapy. Clinical trials for X-linked Chronic Granulomatous Disease (X-CGD) employing gammaretroviral vectors were limited by insertional oncogenesis or lack of persistent engraftment. Our novel strategy, based on regulated lentiviral vectors (LV), targets gp91(phox) expression to the differentiated myeloid compartment while sparing HSC, to reduce the risk of genotoxicity and potential perturbation of reactive oxygen species levels. Targeting was obtained by a myeloid-specific promoter (MSP) and posttranscriptional, microRNA-mediated regulation. We optimized both components in human bone marrow HSC and their differentiated progeny in vitro and in a xenotransplantation model, and generated therapeutic gp91(phox) expressing LVs for CGD gene therapy. All vectors restored gp91(phox) expression and function in human X-CGD myeloid cell lines, primary monocytes and differentiated myeloid cells. While unregulated LVs ectopically expressed gp91(phox) in CD34(+) cells, transcriptionally and posttranscriptionally regulated LVs substantially reduced this off-target expression. X-CGD mice transplanted with transduced HSC restored gp91(phox) expression, and MSP-driven vectors maintained regulation during BM development. Combining transcriptional (SP146.gp91-driven) and posttranscriptional (miR-126-restricted) targeting, we achieved high levels of myeloid-specific transgene expression, entirely sparing the CD34+ HSC compartment. This dual-targeted LV construct represents a promising candidate for further clinical development.Molecular Therapy (2014); doi:10.1038/mt.2014.87.
    Molecular therapy : the journal of the American Society of Gene Therapy. 05/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Targeted genome editing by artificial nucleases has brought the goal of site-specific transgene integration and gene correction within the reach of gene therapy. However, its application to long-term repopulating haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) has remained elusive. Here we show that poor permissiveness to gene transfer and limited proficiency of the homology-directed DNA repair pathway constrain gene targeting in human HSCs. By tailoring delivery platforms and culture conditions we overcame these barriers and provide stringent evidence of targeted integration in human HSCs by long-term multilineage repopulation of transplanted mice. We demonstrate the therapeutic potential of our strategy by targeting a corrective complementary DNA into the IL2RG gene of HSCs from healthy donors and a subject with X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID-X1). Gene-edited HSCs sustained normal haematopoiesis and gave rise to functional lymphoid cells that possess a selective growth advantage over those carrying disruptive IL2RG mutations. These results open up new avenues for treating SCID-X1 and other diseases.
    Nature 05/2014; · 38.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: New neurons, originating from the subventricular zone, are continuously integrating into neuronal circuitry in the olfactory bulb (OB). Using a transgenic sensor mouse, we found that adult-born OB interneurons express microRNA-125 (miR-125), whereas the pre-existing developmentally generated OB interneurons represent a unique population of cells in the adult brain, without miR-125 activity. Stable inhibition of miR-125 in newborn OB neurons resulted in enhanced dendritic morphogenesis, as well as in increased synaptic activation in response to odour sensory stimuli. These data demonstrate that miR-125 controls functional synaptic integration of adult-born OB interneurons. Our results also suggest that absence of an otherwise broadly expressed miRNA is a novel mechanism with which to achieve neuronal subtype specification.
    Development 03/2014; · 6.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment represents a major hurdle to cancer therapy. We developed a gene transfer strategy into hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) to target transgene expression to tumor-infiltrating monocytes/macrophages. Using a combination of transcriptional and microRNA-mediated control, we achieved selective expression of an interferon-α (IFN-α) transgene in differentiated monocytes of human hematochimeric mice. We show that IFN-α transgene expression does not impair engraftment and long-term multilineage repopulation of NSG (NOD/LtSz-scidIL2Rγ(null)) mice by transplanted human HSCs. By providing a source of human cytokines in the mice, we improved the functional reconstitution of human myeloid, natural killer, and T cell lineages, and achieved enhanced immune-mediated clearance of transplanted human breast tumors when hematopoiesis was engineered for tumor-targeted IFN-α expression. By applying our strategy to mouse breast cancer models, we achieved inhibition of tumor progression and experimental metastases in an autologous setting, likely through enhanced generation of effector T cells and their recruitment to the neoplastic tissues. By forcing IFN-α expression in tumor-infiltrating macrophages, we blunted their innate protumoral activity and reprogrammed the tumor microenvironment toward more effective dendritic cell activation and immune effector cell cytotoxicity. Overall, our studies validate the feasibility, safety, and therapeutic potential of a new cancer gene therapy strategy, and open the way to test this approach as adjuvant therapy in advanced breast cancer patients.
    Science translational medicine 01/2014; 6(217):217ra3. · 10.76 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: An immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment is a cancer hallmark and a major impediment to successful immunotherapy. We engineered hematopoietic progenitors to target expression of an interferon-α (IFNα) transgene specifically to their monocytic progeny, including tumor-infiltrating macrophages. Mice chimeric for these IFNα-expressing macrophages showed activation of innate and adaptive immune cells against breast cancer and inhibited disease progression.
    Oncoimmunology. 01/2014; 3:e28696.
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    ABSTRACT: Genetically targeted T cells promise to solve the feasibility and efficacy hurdles of adoptive T-cell therapy of cancer. Selecting a target expressed in multiple-tumor types and required for tumor growth would widen disease indications and prevent immune escape due to the emergence of antigen-loss variants. The adhesive receptor CD44 is broadly expressed in hematological and epithelial tumors, where it contributes to the cancer stem/initiating phenotype. In this study, silencing of its isoform variant 6 (CD44v6) prevented engraftment of human AML and MM cells in immunocompromised mice. Accordingly, T cells targeted to CD44v6 by means of a chimeric antigen receptor containing a CD28 signaling domain mediated potent antitumor effects against primary AML and MM, while sparing normal hematopoietic stem cells and CD44v6-expressing keratinocytes. Importantly, in vitro activation with CD3/CD28 beads and IL-7/IL-15 was required for antitumor efficacy in vivo. Finally, co-expressing a suicide gene enabled fast and efficient pharmacological ablation of CD44v6-targeted T cells and complete rescue from hyper-acute xenogeneic graft-versus-host disease modeling early and generalized toxicity. These results warrant the clinical investigation of suicidal CD44v6-targeted T cells in AML and MM.
    Blood 09/2013; · 9.78 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Lineage specification is thought to be largely regulated at the level of transcription, where lineage-specific transcription factors drive specific cell fates. MicroRNAs (miR), vital to many cell functions, act posttranscriptionally to decrease the expression of target mRNAs. MLL-AF4 acute lymphocytic leukemia exhibits both myeloid and B-cell surface markers, suggesting that the transformed cells are B-cell myeloid progenitor cells. Through gain- and loss-of-function experiments, we demonstrated that microRNA 126 (miR-126) drives B-cell myeloid biphenotypic leukemia differentiation toward B cells without changing expression of E2A immunoglobulin enhancer-binding factor E12/E47 (E2A), early B-cell factor 1 (EBF1), or paired box protein 5, which are critical transcription factors in B-lymphopoiesis. Similar induction of B-cell differentiation by miR-126 was observed in normal hematopoietic cells in vitro and in vivo in uncommitted murine c-Kit(+)Sca1(+)Lineage(-) cells, with insulin regulatory subunit-1 acting as a target of miR-126. Importantly, in EBF1-deficient hematopoietic progenitor cells, which fail to differentiate into B cells, miR-126 significantly up-regulated B220, and induced the expression of B-cell genes, including recombination activating genes-1/2 and CD79a/b. These data suggest that miR-126 can at least partly rescue B-cell development independently of EBF1. These experiments show that miR-126 regulates myeloid vs. B-cell fate through an alternative machinery, establishing the critical role of miRNAs in the lineage specification of multipotent mammalian cells.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 07/2013; · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Tumor progression is accompanied by an altered myelopoiesis causing the accumulation of immunosuppressive cells. Here, we showed that miR-142-3p downregulation promoted macrophage differentiation and determined the acquisition of their immunosuppressive function in tumor. Tumor-released cytokines signaling through gp130, the common subunit of the interleukin-6 cytokine receptor family, induced the LAP(∗) isoform of C/EBPβ transcription factor, promoting macrophage generation. miR-142-3p downregulated gp130 by canonical binding to its messenger RNA (mRNA) 3' UTR and repressed C/EBPβ LAP(∗) by noncanonical binding to its 5' mRNA coding sequence. Enforced miR expression impaired macrophage differentiation both in vitro and in vivo. Mice constitutively expressing miR-142-3p in the bone marrow showed a marked increase in survival following immunotherapy with tumor-specific T lymphocytes. By modulating a specific miR in bone marrow precursors, we thus demonstrated the feasibility of altering tumor-induced macrophage differentiation as a potent tool to improve the efficacy of cancer immunotherapy.
    Immunity 06/2013; 38(6):1236-49. · 19.80 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Key points miR-155 knockdown in myeloid cells accelerates spontaneous breast cancer developmentmiR-155 is required by TAMs for deploying anti-tumoral activity.
    Blood 03/2013; · 9.78 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To better understand and exploit microRNA (miR) regulation, a more precise characterization of miR expression patterns within a tissue or a lineage during development, differentiation, and homeostasis is needed. We previously showed that lentiviral vectors (LV) can be made responsive to miR to stringently control transgene expression as well as to report miR activity "live" and at the single-cell level. Although very useful, this approach reports miR activity by transgene suppression, hampering the direct identification and selection of miR-expressing cells. Here, we describe a strategy to couple transgene expression to the activity of the miR of interest. To this aim, we generated LV encoding two in-series OFF switches: a transcriptional repressor tagged with miR target sequences and a reporter cassette under the control of the repressor. Reporter expression is ON only when the miR is active and represses translation of the transcriptional repressor. We successfully applied this design to different types of repressors, multiple gene encoding vectors and delivered the system either by two separate or a self-contained vector. We demonstrated its performance by live monitoring of two miRs in different stages of human primary hematopoietic stem/progenitor cell differentiation in vivo. Further applications of this approach include imaging of rare miR-expressing cells and positive regulation of a therapeutic or selector gene in target cells identified by the expression of selected miRs.Molecular Therapy (2013); doi:10.1038/mt.2013.12.
    Molecular Therapy 02/2013; · 7.04 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Several microRNAs (miRNAs) that are either specifically enriched or highly expressed in neurons and glia have been described, but the identification of miRNAs modulating neural stem cell (NSC) biology remains elusive. In this study, we exploited high throughput miRNA expression profiling to identify candidate miRNAs enriched in NSC/early progenitors derived from the murine subventricular zone (SVZ). Then, we used lentiviral miRNA sensor vectors (LV.miRT) to monitor the activity of shortlisted miRNAs with cellular and temporal resolution during NSC differentiation, taking advantage of in vitro and in vivo models that recapitulate physiological neurogenesis and gliogenesis and using known neuronal- and glial-specific miRNAs as reference. The LV.miRT platform allowed us monitoring endogenous miRNA activity in low represented cell populations within a bulk culture or within the complexity of CNS tissue, with high sensitivity and specificity. In this way we validated and extended previous results on the neuronal-specific miR-124 and the astroglial-specific miR-23a. Importantly, we describe for the first time a cell type- and differentiation stage-specific modulation of miR-93 and miR-125b in SVZ-derived NSC cultures and in the SVZ neurogenic niche in vivo, suggesting key roles of these miRNAs in regulating NSC function.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(6):e67411. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Lifelong blood cell production is governed through the poorly understood integration of cell-intrinsic and -extrinsic control of hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) quiescence and activation. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) coordinately regulate multiple targets within signaling networks, making them attractive candidate HSC regulators. We report that miR-126, a miRNA expressed in HSC and early progenitors, plays a pivotal role in restraining cell-cycle progression of HSC in vitro and in vivo. miR-126 knockdown by using lentiviral sponges increased HSC proliferation without inducing exhaustion, resulting in expansion of mouse and human long-term repopulating HSC. Conversely, enforced miR-126 expression impaired cell-cycle entry, leading to progressively reduced hematopoietic contribution. In HSC/early progenitors, miR-126 regulates multiple targets within the PI3K/AKT/GSK3β pathway, attenuating signal transduction in response to extrinsic signals. These data establish that miR-126 sets a threshold for HSC activation and thus governs HSC pool size, demonstrating the importance of miRNA in the control of HSC function.
    Cell stem cell 11/2012; · 23.56 Impact Factor
  • B Gentner, L Naldini
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    ABSTRACT: RNA interference (RNAi) has been a landmark discovery in science. A typical application is to knock down the expression of endogenous genes by delivering small interfering RNA (siRNA) into cells triggering the degradation of complementary mRNA. However, RNAi can also be exploited the other way round: making use of the huge diversity of endogenous microRNAs (miRNA), the expression of exogenously introduced genes tagged with artificial miRNA target sequences can be negatively regulated according to the activity of a given miRNA which can be tissue-, lineage-, activation- or differentiation stage specific. This has significantly expanded the regulatory potential of gene transfer vectors and will benefit both basic science and therapeutic applications. This review briefly introduces the reader to the technical basis for exploiting miRNA regulation, followed by a discussion of specific applications for miRNA-regulated vectors/viruses in basic research, gene- and virotherapy.
    Tissue Antigens 11/2012; 80(5):393-403. · 2.93 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: New neurons are continuously generated from neural stem cells with astrocyte properties, which reside in close proximity to the ventricle in the postnatal and adult brain. In this study we found that microRNA-124 (miR-124) dictates postnatal neurogenesis in the mouse subventricular zone. Using a transgenic reporter mouse we show that miR-124 expression is initiated in the rapid amplifying progenitors and remains expressed in the resulting neurons. When we stably inhibited miR-124 in vivo, neurogenesis was blocked, leading to the appearance of ectopic cells with astrocyte characteristics in the olfactory bulb. Conversely, when we overexpressed miR-124, neural stem cells were not maintained in the subventricular zone and neurogenesis was lost. In summary, our results demonstrate that miR-124 is a neuronal fate determinant in the subventricular zone.
    Journal of Neuroscience 06/2012; 32(26):8879-89. · 6.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Endogenous microRNA (miRNA) expression can be exploited for cell type-specific transgene expression as the addition of miRNA target sequences to transgenic cDNA allows for transgene downregulation specifically in cells expressing the respective miRNAs. Here, we have investigated the potential of miRNA-150 target sequences to specifically suppress gene expression in lymphocytes and thereby prevent transgene-induced lymphotoxicity. Abundance of miRNA-150 expression specifically in differentiated B and T cells was confirmed by quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR. Mono- and bicistronic lentiviral vectors were used to investigate the effect of miRNA-150 target sequences on transgene expression in the lymphohematopoietic system. After in vitro studies demonstrated effective downregulation of transgene expression in murine B220(+) B and CD3(+) T cells, the concept was further verified in a murine transplant model. Again, marked suppression of transgene activity was observed in B220(+) B and CD4(+) or CD8(+) T cells whereas expression in CD11b(+) myeloid cells, lin(-) and lin(-)/Sca1(+) progenitors, or lin(-)/Sca1(+)/c-kit(+) stem cells remained almost unaffected. No toxicity of miRNA-150 targeting in transduced lymphohematopoietic cells was noted. Thus, our results demonstrate the suitability of miRNA-150 targeting to specifically suppress transgene expression in lymphocytes and further support the concept of miRNA targeting for cell type-specific transgene expression in gene therapy approaches.
    Gene therapy 10/2011; 19(9):915-24. · 4.75 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology has provided researchers with a unique tool to derive disease-specific stem cells for the study and possible treatment of degenerative disorders with autologous cells. The low efficiency and heterogeneous nature of reprogramming is a major impediment to the generation of personalized iPSC lines. Here, we report the generation of a lentiviral system based on a microRNA-regulated transgene that enables for the efficient selection of mouse and human pluripotent cells. This system relies on the differential expression pattern of the mature form of microRNA let7a in pluripotent versus committed or differentiated cells. We generated microRNA responsive green fluorescent protein and Neo reporters for specific labeling and active selection of the pluripotent cells in any culture condition. We used this system to establish Rett syndrome and Parkinson's disease human iPSCs. The presented selection procedure represents a straightforward and powerful tool for facilitating the derivation of patient-specific iPSCs.
    Stem Cells 09/2011; 29(11):1684-95. · 7.70 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Tumor-infiltrating myeloid cells convey proangiogenic programs that counteract the efficacy of antiangiogenic therapy. Here, we show that blocking angiopoietin-2 (ANG2), a TIE2 ligand and angiogenic factor expressed by activated endothelial cells (ECs), regresses the tumor vasculature and inhibits progression of late-stage, metastatic MMTV-PyMT mammary carcinomas and RIP1-Tag2 pancreatic insulinomas. ANG2 blockade did not inhibit recruitment of MRC1(+) TIE2-expressing macrophages (TEMs) but impeded their upregulation of Tie2, association with blood vessels, and ability to restore angiogenesis in tumors. Conditional Tie2 gene knockdown in TEMs was sufficient to decrease tumor angiogenesis. Our findings support a model wherein the ANG2-TIE2 axis mediates cell-to-cell interactions between TEMs and ECs that are important for tumor angiogenesis and can be targeted to induce effective antitumor responses.
    Cancer cell 04/2011; 19(4):512-26. · 25.29 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Globoid cell leukodystrophy (GLD; also known as Krabbe disease) is an invariably fatal lysosomal storage disorder caused by mutations in the galactocerebrosidase (GALC) gene. Hematopoietic stem cell (HSC)-based gene therapy is being explored for GLD; however, we found that forced GALC expression was toxic to HSCs and early progenitors, highlighting the need for improved regulation of vector expression. We used a genetic reporter strategy based on lentiviral vectors to detect microRNA activity in hematopoietic cells at single-cell resolution. We report that miR-126 and miR-130a were expressed in HSCs and early progenitors from both mice and humans, but not in differentiated progeny. Moreover, repopulating HSCs could be purified solely on the basis of miRNA expression, providing a new method relevant for human HSC isolation. By incorporating miR-126 target sequences into a GALC-expressing vector, we suppressed GALC expression in HSCs while maintaining robust expression in mature hematopoietic cells. This approach protected HSCs from GALC toxicity and allowed successful treatment of a mouse GLD model, providing a rationale to explore HSC-based gene therapy for GLD.
    Science translational medicine 11/2010; 2(58):58ra84. · 10.76 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The balance between survival and death in many cell types is regulated by small changes in the intracellular content of bioactive sphingolipids. Enzymes that either produce or degrade these sphingolipids control this equilibrium. The findings here described indicate that the lysosomal galactocerebrosidase (GALC) enzyme, defective in globoid cell leukodystrophy, is involved in the maintenance of a functional hematopoietic stem/progenitor cell (HSPC) niche by contributing to the control of the intracellular content of key sphingolipids. Indeed, we show that both insufficient and supraphysiologic GALC activity-by inherited genetic deficiency or forced gene expression in patients' cells and in the disease model-induce alterations of the intracellular content of the bioactive GALC downstream products ceramide and sphingosine, and thus affect HSPC survival and function and the functionality of the stem cell niche. Therefore, GALC and, possibly, other enzymes for the maintenance of niche functionality and health tightly control the concentration of these sphingolipids within HSPCs.
    Blood 09/2010; 116(11):1857-66. · 9.78 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In this study, we have used a microRNA-regulated lentiviral reporter system to visualize and segregate differentiating neuronal cells in pluripotent cultures. Efficient suppression of transgene expression, specifically in undifferentiated pluripotent cells, was achieved by using a lentiviral vector expressing a fluorescent reporter gene regulated by microRNA-292. Using this strategy, it was possible to track progeny from murine ES, human ES cells, and induced pluripotent stem cells as they differentiated toward the neural lineage. In addition, this strategy was successfully used to FACS purify neuronal progenitors for molecular analysis and transplantation. FACS enrichment reduced tumor formation and increased survival of ES cell-derived neuronal progenitors after transplantation. The properties and versatility of the microRNA-regulated vectors allows broad use of these vectors in stem cell applications.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 06/2010; 107(25):11602-7. · 9.81 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

643 Citations
280.20 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2008–2014
    • San Raffaele Scientific Institute
      Milano, Lombardy, Italy
    • Istituto Sperimentale Italiano Lazzaro Spallanzani
      Rivolta, Lombardy, Italy
  • 2013
    • Netherlands Cancer Institute
      Amsterdamo, North Holland, Netherlands
  • 2012
    • University of Toronto
      Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 2010–2012
    • Lund University
      • Department of Experimental Medical Science
      Lund, Skane, Sweden
    • Università Vita-Salute San Raffaele
      Milano, Lombardy, Italy