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Blood. 2009 Dec 10;114(25):5152-61. doi: 10.1182/blood-2009-04-214569.

In vivo delivery of a microRNA-regulated transgene induces antigen-specific regulatory T cells and promotes immunologic tolerance.

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San Raffaele Telethon Institute for Gene Therapy, San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milan, Italy.


We previously showed that incorporating target sequences for the hematopoietic-specific microRNA miR-142 into an antigen-encoding transgene prevents antigen expression in antigen-presenting cells (APCs). To determine whether this approach induces immunologic tolerance, we treated mice with a miR-142-regulated lentiviral vector encoding green fluorescent protein (GFP), and subsequently vaccinated the mice against GFP. In contrast to control mice, no anti-GFP response was observed, indicating that robust tolerance to the transgene-encoded antigen was achieved. Furthermore, injection of the miR-142-regulated vector induced a population of GFP-specific regulatory T cells. Interestingly, an anti-GFP response was observed when microRNA miR-122a was inserted into the vector and antigen expression was detargeted from hepatocytes as well as APCs. This demonstrates that, in the context of lentiviral vector-mediated gene transfer, detargeting antigen expression from professional APCs, coupled with expression in hepatocytes, can induce antigen-specific immunologic tolerance.

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