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Potentially therapeutic levels of anti-sickling globin gene expression following lentivirus-mediated gene transfer in sickle cell disease bone marrow CD34+ cells.

  • Urbinati, Fabrizia1
  • Hargrove, Phillip W2
  • Geiger, Sabine1
  • Romero, Zulema1
  • Wherley, Jennifer1
  • Kaufman, Michael L1
  • Hollis, Roger P1
  • Chambers, Christopher B3
  • Persons, Derek A2
  • Kohn, Donald B1
  • Wilber, Andrew4
  • 1 Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
  • 2 Department of Hematology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN, USA.
  • 3 Department of Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Cell Biology, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield, IL, USA.
  • 4 Department of Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Cell Biology, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield, IL, USA. Electronic address: [email protected]
Published Article
Experimental hematology
Publication Date
May 01, 2015
DOI: 10.1016/j.exphem.2015.01.009
PMID: 25681747


Sickle cell disease (SCD) can be cured by allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant. However, this is only possible when a matched donor is available, making the development of gene therapy using autologous hematopoietic stem cells a highly desirable alternative. We used a culture model of human erythropoiesis to directly compare two insulated, self-inactivating, and erythroid-specific lentiviral vectors, encoding for γ-globin (V5m3-400) or a modified β-globin (βAS3-FB) for production of antisickling hemoglobin (Hb) and correction of red cell deformability after deoxygenation. Bone marrow CD34+ cells from three SCD patients were transduced using V5m3-400 or βAS3-FB and compared with mock-transduced SCD or healthy donor CD34+ cells. Lentiviral transduction did not impair cell growth or differentiation, as gauged by proliferation and acquisition of erythroid markers. Vector copy number averaged approximately one copy per cell, and corrective globin mRNA levels were increased more than sevenfold over mock-transduced controls. Erythroblasts derived from healthy donor and mock-transduced SCD cells produced a low level of fetal Hb that was increased to 23.6 ± 4.1% per vector copy for cells transduced with V5m3-400. Equivalent levels of modified normal adult Hb of 17.6 ± 3.8% per vector copy were detected for SCD cells transduced with βAS3-FB. These levels of antisickling Hb production were sufficient to reduce sickling of terminal-stage red blood cells upon deoxygenation. We concluded that the achieved levels of fetal Hb and modified normal adult Hb would likely prove therapeutic to SCD patients who lack matched donors.

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