Human Gene Therapy. 2020 May 8
Hyung-Joo Kwon, Keyun Qing, Selvarangan Ponnazhagan, Xu-Shan Wang, David M. Markusic, Siddhant Gupte, Shannon E. Boye, and Arun Srivastava
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Research Field: immunology

Keywords: AAV, immune response, MHC class II, gene expression, gene therapy

AAV Serotype: AAV2

Dose: 1x 10^10 vg

Routes of Administration: either intravenously (IV) or intramuscularly (IM)

Targeted organ: eye

Animal or cell line strain: C57BL6/J mice


A 20-nt long sequence, termed the D-sequence, in the adeno-associated virus (AAV) inverted terminal repeat was observed to share a partial sequence homology with the X-box in the regulatory region of the human leukocyte antigen DRA (HLA-DRA) promoter of the human major histocompatibility complex class II (MHC-II) genes. The D-sequence was also shown to specifically interact with the regulatory factor binding to the X-box (RFX), binding of which to the X-box is a critical step in the MHC-II gene expression, suggesting that D-sequence might compete for RFX transcription factor binding, thereby suppressing expression from the MHC-II promoter. In DNA-mediated transfection experiments, using a reporter gene under the control of the HLA-DRA promoter, D-sequence oligonucleotides were found to inhibit expression of the reporter gene expression in HeLa and 293 cells by ∼93% and 96%, respectively. No inhibition was observed when nonspecific synthetic oligonucleotides were used. D-sequence oligonucleotides had no effect on expression from the cytomegalovirus immediate-early gene promoter. Interferon-γ-mediated activation of MHC-II gene expression was also inhibited by D-sequence oligonucleotides as well as after infection with either the wild-type AAV or transduction with recombinant AAV vectors. These studies suggest that the D-sequence-mediated downregulation of the MHC-II gene expression may be exploited toward the development of novel AAV vectors capable of dampening the host humoral response, which has important implication in the optimal use of these vectors in human gene therapy.

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