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Mol Ther. 2001 Jul;4(1):75-82.

High and sustained transgene expression in vivo from plasmid vectors containing a hybrid ubiquitin promoter.

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Genzyme Corporation, 31 New York Avenue, Framingham, MA 01701-9322, USA.

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  • Mol Ther 2001 Sep;4(3):280.


Sustained transgene expression will be required for the successful treatment of most genetic diseases being considered for gene therapy. The initially high levels of expression attained with plasmid DNA (pDNA) vectors containing viral promoters, such as that from cytomegalovirus (CMV), decline precipitously to near-background levels within two to three weeks. Here we constructed pDNA vectors containing the human cellular UBB (encoding ubiquitin B; Ub) promoter and evaluated their expression in the mouse lung. Cationic lipid-pDNA complexes were instilled intranasally (IN) or injected intravenously (IV) into immunodeficient BALB/c mice. Chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) reporter gene expression from the UBB promoter was initially very low at day 2 post-administration, but by day 35 exceeded the level of expression attained from a CMV promoter vector by four- to ninefold. Appending a portion of the CMV enhancer 5' of the UBB promoter (CMV-Ub) increased CAT expression to nearly that of the CMV promoter and expression persisted in the lung for at least 3 months, with 50% of day 2 levels remaining at day 84. In the liver, expression from the CMV-Ub hybrid promoter was sustained for 42 days. As previous studies have shown that eliminating immunostimulatory CpG motifs in pDNA vectors reduces their toxicity, we constructed a CpG-deficient version of the CMV-Ub vector expressing alpha-galactosidase A, the enzyme deficient in Fabry disease, a lysosomal storage disorder. After IN or IV administration, levels of alpha-galactosidase A from this vector were not only undiminished but increased 500% to 1500% by day 35. Our results indicate that CpG-reduced plasmid vectors containing a CMV-Ub hybrid promoter may provide the long-term expression required for a practical gene therapeutic.

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