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Elimination of contaminating cap genes in AAV vector virions reduces immune responses and improves transgene expression in a canine gene therapy model.

Authors
Type
Published Article
Journal
Gene Therapy
0969-7128
Publisher
Nature Publishing Group
Publication Date
Volume
21
Issue
4
Pages
363–370
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1038/gt.2014.4
PMID: 24500525
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Animal and human gene therapy studies utilizing AAV vectors have shown that immune responses to AAV capsid proteins can severely limit transgene expression. The main source of capsid antigen is that associated with the AAV vectors, which can be reduced by stringent vector purification. A second source of AAV capsid proteins is that expressed from cap genes aberrantly packaged into AAV virions during vector production. This antigen source can be eliminated by the use of a cap gene that is too large to be incorporated into an AAV capsid, such as a cap gene containing a large intron (captron gene). Here, we investigated the effects of elimination of cap gene transfer and of vector purification by CsCl gradient centrifugation on AAV vector immunogenicity and expression following intramuscular injection in dogs. We found that both approaches reduced vector immunogenicity and that combining the two produced the lowest immune responses and highest transgene expression. This combined approach enabled the use of a relatively mild immunosuppressive regimen to promote robust micro-dystrophin gene expression in Duchenne muscular dystrophy-affected dogs. Our study shows the importance of minimizing AAV cap gene impurities and indicates that this improvement in AAV vector production may benefit human applications.

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