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Hum Gene Ther. 2011 Jun;22(6):697-710. doi: 10.1089/hum.2010.088. Epub 2011 Apr 11.

Clonal inventory screens uncover monoclonality following serial transplantation of MGMT P140K-transduced stem cells and dose-intense chemotherapy.

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Translational Oncology, National Center for Tumor Diseases and German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg 69120, Germany.


Gene transfer of mutant O(6)-methylguanine-DNA-methyltransferase (MGMT(P140K)) into hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) protects hematopoiesis from alkylating agents and allows efficient in vivo selection of transduced HSCs. However, insertional mutagenesis, high regenerative stress associated with selection, and the genotoxic potential of alkylating drugs represent considerable risk factors for clinical applications of this approach. Therefore, we investigated the long-term effect of MGMT(P140K) gene transfer followed by repetitive, dose-intensive treatment with alkylating agents in a murine serial bone marrow transplant model and assessed clonality of hematopoiesis up to tertiary recipients. The substantial selection pressure resulted in almost completely transduced hematopoiesis in all cohorts. Ligation-mediated PCR and next-generation sequencing identified several repopulating clones carrying vector insertions in distinct genomic regions that were ∼ 9 kb of size (common integration sites). Beside polyclonal reconstitution in the majority of the mice, we also detected monoclonal or oligoclonal repopulation patterns with HSC clones showing vector insertions in the Usp10 or Tubb3 gene. Interestingly, neither Usp10, Tubb3, nor any of the genes located in common integration sites have been linked to clonal expansion in previous preclinical or clinical gene therapy trials. However, a considerable number of these genes are involved in DNA damage response and cell fate decision pathways following cytostatic drug application. Thus, in summary, our study advocates ligation-mediated PCR and next generation sequencing as an effective and reliable method to identify gene products associated with clonal survival in specific experimental settings such as chemoselection using alkylating agents.

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