[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Author Summary
Current antiretroviral combination therapy can efficiently suppress virus replication, but cannot eliminate HIV. Therefore, no cure for HIV exists. A main hurdle for virus eradication is seen in the existence of resting cells that contain integrated replication-competent, but temporarily silenced, HIV genomes. Therefore, the most direct approach to eliminating virus reservoirs is to remove HIV genomes from infected cells. As previous studies suggested, this may be achievable by Tre-recombinase, an engineered enzyme that can excise integrated HIV from host cell chromosomes. The present work analyzes the expression of Tre-recombinase in human cells and demonstrates highly accurate Tre activity in complete absence of Tre-related cytopathic effects. Furthermore, in vivo analysis of Tre-recombinase demonstrates highly significant antiviral effects of Tre in HIV-infected humanized mice. The presented data suggest that Tre-recombinase might become a valuable co
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Stable integration of HIV proviral DNA into host cell chromosomes, a hallmark and essential feature of the retroviral life cycle, establishes the infection permanently. Current antiretroviral combination drug therapy cannot cure HIV infection. However, expressing an engineered HIV-1 long terminal repeat (LTR) site-specific recombinase (Tre), shown to excise integrated proviral DNA in vitro, may provide a novel and highly promising antiviral strategy. We report here the conditional expression of Tre-recombinase from an advanced lentiviral self-inactivation (SIN) vector in HIV-infected cells. We demonstrate faithful transgene expression, resulting in accurate provirus excision in the absence of cytopathic effects. Moreover, pronounced Tre-mediated antiviral effects are demonstrated in vivo, particularly in humanized Rag2(-/-)γc(-/-) mice engrafted with either Tre-transduced primary CD4(+) T cells, or Tre-transduced CD34(+) hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSC). Taken together, our data support the use of Tre-recombinase in novel therapy strategies aiming to provide a cure for HIV.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Site-specific recombinases (SSRs) can perform DNA rearrangements, including deletions, inversions and translocations when their naive target sequences are placed strategically into the genome of an organism. Hence, in order to employ SSRs in heterologous hosts, their target sites have to be introduced into the genome of an organism before the enzyme can be practically employed. Engineered SSRs hold great promise for biotechnology and advanced biomedical applications, as they promise to extend the usefulness of SSRs to allow efficient and specific recombination of pre-existing, natural genomic sequences. However, the generation of enzymes with desired properties remains challenging. Here, we use substrate-linked directed evolution in combination with molecular modeling to rationally engineer an efficient and specific recombinase (sTre) that readily and specifically recombines a sequence present in the HIV-1 genome. We elucidate the role of key residues implicated in the molecular recognition mechanism and we present a rationale for sTre's enhanced specificity. Combining evolutionary and rational approaches should help in accelerating the generation of enzymes with desired properties for use in biotechnology and biomedicine.
Nucleic Acids Research 12/2012; · 8.28 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Over the previous years, comprehensive studies on antiretroviral drugs resulted in the successful introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) into clinical practice for treatment of HIV/AIDS. However, there is still need for new therapeutic approaches, since HAART cannot eradicate HIV-1 from the infected organism and, unfortunately, can be associated with long-term toxicity and the development of drug resistance. In contrast, novel gene therapy strategies may have the potential to reverse the infection by eradicating HIV-1. For example, expression of long terminal repeat (LTR)-specific recombinase (Tre-recombinase) has been shown to result in chromosomal excision of proviral DNA and, in consequence, in the eradication of HIV-1 from infected cell cultures. However, the delivery of Tre-recombinase currently depends on the genetic manipulation of target cells, a process that is complicating such therapeutic approaches and, thus, might be undesirable in a clinical setting. In this report we demonstrate that E.coli expressed Tre-recombinases, tagged either with the protein transduction domain (PTD) from the HIV-1 Tat trans-activator or the translocation motif (TLM) of the Hepatitis B virus PreS2 protein, were able to translocate efficiently into cells and showed significant recombination activity on HIV-1 LTR sequences. Tre activity was observed using episomal and stable integrated reporter constructs in transfected HeLa cells. Furthermore, the TLM-tagged enzyme was able to excise the full-length proviral DNA from chromosomal integration sites of HIV-1-infected HeLa and CEM-SS cells. The presented data confirm Tre-recombinase activity on integrated HIV-1 and provide the basis for the non-genetic transient application of engineered recombinases, which may be a valuable component of future HIV eradication strategies.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(2):e31576. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Heterologous gene transfer by viral vector systems is often limited by factors such as preexisting immunity, toxicity, low packaging capacity, or weak immunogenic potential. A novel viral vector system derived from equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1) not only overcomes some of these obstacles but also promotes the robust expression of a delivered transgene and the induction of antigen-specific immune responses. Regarding an enhanced safety profile, we assessed the impact of the gene encoding the sole essential tegument protein, ETIF, on the replication and immunogenicity of recombinant EHVs. The deletion of ETIF severely attenuates replication in permissive RK13 cells and a human lung epithelial cell line but without influencing transgene expression. Whereas the intranasal administration of a recombinant luciferase EHV in BALB/c mice resulted in transgene expression in nasal cavities and lungs for 5 to 6 days, the ETIF deletion limited expression to 2 days and resulted in 30-fold-less luminescence. Attenuated replication was accompanied by a decreased capacity to induce CD8(+) T cells against a delivered HIV Gag transgene in BALB/c mice following repeated intranasal application. However, a single subcutaneous immunization with a gag DNA vaccine primed specific T cells for substantial expansion by two subsequent intranasal booster immunizations with either the gag recombinant ETIF mutant or the parental virus. In addition to inducing Gag-specific serum antibodies, this prime-boost strategy clearly outperformed three sequential immunizations with the parental or EHV-ΔETIF virus or repeated DNA vaccination by inducing substantial specific secretory IgA (sIgA) titers.
Journal of Virology 11/2010; 84(22):11602-13. · 5.08 Impact Factor