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Hum Gene Ther. 1999 May 20;10(8):1321-9.

Retrovirus-mediated correction of the metabolic defect in cultured Farber disease cells.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago, 60607-7173, USA.


Farber disease is a rare severe lysosomal storage disorder due to a deficient activity of the enzyme acid ceramidase (AC). Patients have granulomas along with lipid-laden macrophages that accumulate in a number of tissues, leading to multiple diverse clinical symptoms. There is no therapy for the disorder and most patients succumb to the disease in early childhood. The severity of the disease progression seems to correlate with the amount of the accumulated ceramide substrate. Since the cDNA for human AC has been elucidated we sought to establish if genetic transfer of this sequence would lead to enzymatic and, especially, functional correction of the catabolic defect in Farber patient cells. To do this, a novel amphotropic recombinant retrovirus was constructed that engineers transfer of the human AC cDNA. On infection of patient fibroblasts, AC enzyme activity in cell extracts was completely restored. Further, substrate-loading assays of intact living cells showed a fully normalized catabolism of lysosomal ceramide. Lastly, as reported for some other corrected enzymatic defects of lysosomes, metabolic cooperativity was seen, in that functionally corrected patient fibroblasts secreted AC that was taken up through the mannose 6-phosphate receptor and used by uncorrected fibroblasts as well as recipient Farber lymphoblastoid cells. This overall transduction and uptake scenario for Farber disease allows future treatment of this severe disorder to be envisioned using gene transfer approaches.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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