Affordable Access

Creation of an In vivo cytosensor using engineered mesangial cells. Automatic sensing of glomerular inflammation controls transgene activity.

Publication Date
  • Research Article
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Automatic control over exogenous gene expression in response to the activity of disease is a crucial hurdle for gene transfer-based therapies. Towards achieving this goal, we created a "cytosensor" that perceives local inflammatory states and subsequently regulates foreign gene expression. alpha-Smooth muscle actin is known to be expressed in glomerular mesangial cells exclusively in pathologic situations. CArG box element, the crucial regulatory sequence of the alpha-smooth muscle actin promoter, was used as a sensor for glomerular inflammation. Rat mesangial cells were stably transfected with an expression plasmid that introduces a beta-galactosidase gene under the control of CArG box elements. In vitro, the established cells expressed beta-galactosidase exclusively after stimulation with serum. To examine whether the cells are able to automatically control transgene activity in vivo, serum-stimulated or unstimulated cells were transferred into normal rat glomeruli or glomeruli subjected to anti-Thy 1 glomerulonephritis. When stimulated cells were transferred into the normal glomeruli, beta-galactosidase expression was switched off in vivo within 3 d. In contrast, when unstimulated cells were transferred into the nephritic glomeruli, transgene expression was substantially induced. These data indicate the feasibility of using the CArG box element as a molecular sensor for glomerular injury. In the context of advanced forms of gene therapy, this approach provides a novel concept for automatic regulation of local transgene expression where the transgene is required to be activated during inflammation and deactivated when the inflammation has subsided.

There are no comments yet on this publication. Be the first to share your thoughts.


Seen <100 times