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Stem Cells. 2001;19(1):12-23.

Gene transfer into nonhuman primate hematopoietic stem cells: implications for gene therapy.

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1
Division of Genetic Therapeutics, Center for Molecular Medicine, Jichi Medical School, Tochigi, Japan. hanazono@jichi.ac.jp

Abstract

Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are desirable targets for gene therapy because of their self-renewal and multilineage differentiation abilities. Retroviral vectors are extensively used for HSC gene therapy. However, the initial human trials of HSC gene marking and therapy showed that the gene transfer efficiency into human HSCs with retroviral vectors was very low in contrast to the much higher efficiency observed in murine experiments. The more quiescent nature of human HSCs and the lower density of retroviral receptors on them hindered the efficient gene transfer with retroviral vectors. Since nonhuman primates have marked similarity to humans in all aspects including the HSC biology, their models are considered to be important to evaluate and improve gene transfer into human HSCs. Using these models, clinically relevant levels (around 10% or even more) of gene-modified cells in peripheral blood have recently been achieved after gene transfer into HSCs and their autologous transplantation. This has been made possible by improving ex vivo transduction conditions such as introduction of Flt-3 ligand and specific fibronectin fragment (CH-296) into ex vivo culture during transduction, and the use of retroviral vectors pseudotyped with the gibbon ape leukemia virus or feline endogenous retrovirus envelope. Other strategies including the use of lentiviral vectors and in vivo selective expansion of gene-modified cells with the drug resistance gene or selective amplifier gene (also designated the molecular growth switch) are now being tested to further increase the fraction of gene-modified cells using nonhuman primate models. In addition to the high gene transfer efficiency, high-level and long-term expression of transgenes in human HSCs and their progeny is also required for effective HSC gene therapy. For this purpose, other backbones of retroviral vectors such as the murine stem cell virus and cis-DNA elements, such as the ss-globin locus control region and the chromatin insulator, also need to be tested in nonhuman primate models. Nonhuman primate studies will continue to provide an important framework for human HSC gene therapy. Well-designed nonhuman primate studies will also offer unique insights into the HSCs, immune system, and transplantation biology characteristic of large animals.

PMID:
11209087
DOI:
10.1634/stemcells.19-1-12
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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