[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The array of genome editing strategies based on targeted double-stranded DNA break formation have recently been enriched through the introduction of transcription activator-like type III effector (TALE) nucleases (TALENs). To advance the testing of TALE-based approaches, it will be crucial to deliver these custom-designed proteins not only into transformed cell types but also into more relevant, chromosomally stable, primary cells. Viral vectors are among the most effective gene transfer vehicles. Here, we investigated the capacity of human immunodeficiency virus type 1- and adenovirus-based vectors to package and deliver functional TALEN genes into various human cell types. To this end, we attempted to assemble particles of these two vector classes, each encoding a monomer of a TALEN pair targeted to a bipartite sequence within the AAVS1 'safe harbor' locus. Vector DNA analyses revealed that adenoviral vectors transferred intact TALEN genes, whereas lentiviral vectors failed to do so, as shown by their heterogeneously sized proviruses in target cells. Importantly, adenoviral vector-mediated TALEN gene delivery resulted in site-specific double-stranded DNA break formation at the intended AAVS1 target site at similarly high levels in both transformed and non-transformed cells. In conclusion, we demonstrate that adenoviral, but not lentiviral, vectors constitute a valuable TALEN gene delivery platform.
Nucleic Acids Research 12/2012; · 8.28 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Integration-defective lentiviral vectors (IDLVs) are being increasingly deployed in both basic and pre-clinical gene transfer settings. Often, however, the IDLV transgene expression profile is muted when compared to that of their integration-proficient counterparts. We hypothesized that the episomal nature of IDLVs turns them into preferential targets for epigenetic silencing involving chromatin-remodeling histone deacetylation. Therefore, vectors carrying an array of cis-acting elements and transcriptional unit components were assembled with the aid of packaging constructs encoding either the wild-type or the class I mutant D116N integrase moieties. The transduction levels and transgene-product yields provided by each vector class were assessed in the presence and absence of the histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors sodium butyrate and trichostatin A. To investigate the role of the target cell replication status, we performed experiments in growth-arrested human mesenchymal stem cells and in post-mitotic syncytial myotubes. We found that IDLVs are acutely affected by HDACs regardless of their genetic make-up or target cell replication rate. Interestingly, the magnitude of IDLV transgene expression rescue due to HDAC inhibition varied in a vector backbone- and cell type-dependent manner. Finally, investigation of histone modifications by ChIP-qPCR revealed a paucity of euchromatin marks distributed along IDLV genomes when compared to those measured on isogenic integration-competent vector templates. These findings support the view that IDLVs constitute preferential targets for epigenetic silencing involving histone deacetylation, which contributes to dampen their full transcriptional potential. Our data provide leads on how to most optimally titrate and deploy these promising episomal gene delivery vehicles.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: There is great interest in transdifferentiating cells from one lineage into those of another and in dedifferentiating mature cells back into a stem/progenitor cell state by deploying naturally occurring transcription factors (TFs). Often, however, steering cellular differentiation pathways in a predictable and efficient manner remains challenging. Here, we investigated the principle of combining domains from different lineage-specific TFs to improve directed cellular differentiation. As proof-of-concept, we engineered the whole-human TF MyoDCD, which has the NH(2)-terminal transcription activation domain (TAD) and adjacent DNA-binding motif of MyoD COOH-terminally fused to the TAD of myocardin (MyoCD). We found via reporter gene and marker protein assays as well as by a cell fusion readout system that, targeting the TAD of MyoCD to genes normally responsive to the skeletal muscle-specific TF MyoD enforces more robust myogenic reprogramming of nonmuscle cells than that achieved by the parental, prototypic master TF, MyoD. Human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) transduced with a codon-optimized microdystrophin gene linked to a synthetic striated muscle-specific promoter and/or with MyoD or MyoDCD were evaluated for complementing the genetic defect in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) myocytes through heterotypic cell fusion. Cotransduction of hMSCs with MyoDCD and microdystrophin led to chimeric myotubes containing the highest dystrophin levels.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cell-to-cell fusion is involved in multiple fundamental biological processes. Prominent examples include osteoclast and giant cell formation, fertilization and skeletal myogenesis which involve macrophage, sperm-egg and myoblast fusion, respectively. Indeed, the importance of cell fusion is underscored by the wide range of homeostatic as well as pathologic processes in which it plays a key role. Therefore, rapid and sensitive systems to trace and measure cell fusion events in various experimental systems are in demand. Here, we introduce a bipartite cell fusion monitoring system based on a genetic switch responsive to the site-specific recombinase FLP. To allow flexible deployment in both dividing as well as non-dividing cell populations, inducer and reporter modules were incorporated in lentivirus vector particles. Moreover, the recombinase-inducible transcription units were designed in such a way as to minimize basal activity and chromosomal position effects in the "off" and "on" states, respectively. The lentivirus vector-based conditional gene expression assay was validated in primary human mesenchymal stem cells and in a differentiation model based on muscle progenitor cells from a Duchenne muscular dystrophy patient using reporter genes compatible with live- and single-cell imaging and with whole population measurements. Using the skeletal muscle cell differentiation model, we showed that the new assay displays low background activity, a 2-log dynamic range, high sensitivity and is amenable to the investigation of cell fusion kinetics. The utility of the bipartite cell fusion monitoring system was underscored by a study on the impact of drug- and RNAi-mediated p38 MAPK inhibition on human myocyte differentiation. Finally, building on the capacity of lentivirus vectors to readily generate transgenic animals the present FLP-inducible system should be adaptable, alone or together with Cre/loxP-based assays, to cell lineage tracing and conditional gene manipulation studies in vivo.
PLoS ONE 01/2010; 5(6):e10954. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: JNK and ERK MAP kinases regulate cellular responses to genotoxic stress in a cell type and cell context-dependent manner. However, the factors that determine and execute JNK- and ERK-controlled stress responses are only partly known. In this study, we investigate the roles of the AP-1 components ATF3 and Fra1 in JNK- and ERK-dependent cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. We show that the anti-cancer drug cisplatin or UV light activates both JNK and ERK in human glioblastoma cells lacking functional p53. Inhibition experiments of JNK or ERK activities revealed that the ERK pathway strongly promotes cisplatin- and UV-induced apoptosis in these glioblastoma cells. Furthermore, JNK but not ERK is required for ATF3 induction, and both ERK and JNK are necessary for post-transcriptional induction of Fra1 in response to cisplatin or UV. Knock-down of ATF3 and Fra1 results in increased and decreased cisplatin-induced apoptosis, respectively, indicating that ATF3 is an anti-apoptotic JNK effector and Fra1 is a pro-apoptotic ERK/JNK effector. Knock-down experiments also revealed that ATF3 and Fra1, respectively, enhance and reduce S-phase arrest through differential modulation of the Chk1-Cdk2 pathway. Thus, we identify novel reciprocal functions of ATF3 and Fra1 in JNK- and ERK-dependent DNA damage responses.
DNA Repair 04/2008; 7(3):487-96. · 4.27 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The nucleotide excision repair (NER) system consists of two sub-pathways, global genome repair (GGR) and transcription-coupled repair (TCR), which exhibit distinct functions in the cellular response to genotoxic stress. Defects in TCR result in prolonged UV light-induced stalling of RNA polymerase II and hypersensitivity to apoptosis induced by UV and certain chemotherapeutic drugs. Here, we show that low doses of UV trigger delayed activation of the stress-induced MAPkinase JNK and its proapoptotic targets c-Jun and ATF-3 in TCR-deficient primary human fibroblasts from Xeroderma Pigmentosum (XP) and Cockayne syndrome (CS) patients. This delayed activation of the JNK pathway is not observed in GGR-deficient TCR-proficient XP cells, is independent of functional p53, and is established through repression of the JNK-phosphatase MKP-1 rather than by activation of the JNK kinases MKK4 and 7. Enzymatic reversal of UV-induced cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers (CPDs) by CPD photolyase abrogated JNK activation, MKP-1 repression, and apoptosis in TCR-deficient XPA cells. Ectopic expression of MKP-1 inhibited DNA-damage-induced JNK activity and apoptosis. These results identify both MKP-1 and JNK as sensors and downstream effectors of persistent DNA damage in transcribed genes and suggest a link between the JNK pathway and UV-induced stalling of RNApol II.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Effective gene therapy is dependent on safe gene delivery vehicles that can achieve efficient transduction and sustained transgene expression. We are developing a hybrid viral vector system that combines in a single particle the large cloning capacity and efficient cell cycle-independent nuclear gene delivery of adenovirus (Ad) vectors with the long-term transgene expression and lack of viral genes of adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors. The strategy being pursued relies on coupling the AAV DNA replication mechanism to the Ad encapsidation process through packaging of AAV-dependent replicative intermediates provided with Ad packaging elements into Ad capsids. The generation of these high-capacity AAV/Ad hybrid vectors takes place in Ad early region 1 (E1)-expressing cells and requires an Ad vector with E1 deleted to complement in trans both AAV helper functions and Ad structural proteins. The dependence on a replicating helper Ad vector leads to the contamination of AAV/Ad hybrid vector preparations with a large excess of helper Ad particles. This renders the further propagation and ultimate use of these gene delivery vehicles very difficult. Here, we show that Cre/loxP-mediated genetic selection against the packaging of helper Ad DNA can reduce helper Ad vector contamination by 99.98% without compromising hybrid vector rescue. This allowed amplification of high-capacity AAV/Ad hybrid vectors to high titers in a single round of propagation.
Journal of Virology 12/2002; 76(21):10734-44. · 5.08 Impact Factor