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Anim Biotechnol. 2013;24(4):253-67. doi: 10.1080/10495398.2012.752741.

Nucleofection-mediated α1,3-galactosyltransferase gene inactivation and membrane cofactor protein expression for pig-to-primate xenotransplantation.

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a Animal Biotechnology Division , National Institute of Animal Science , RDA , Suwon , South Korea.


Xenotransplantation of pig organs into primates leads to hyperacute rejection (HAR). Functional ablation of the pig α 1,3-galactosyltransferase (GalT) gene, which abrogates expression of the Gal α 1-3Gal β 1-4GlcNAc-R (Gal) antigen, which inhibits HAR. However, antigens other than Gal may induce immunological rejection by their cognate antibody responses. Ultimately, overexpression of complement regulatory proteins reduces acute humoral rejection by non-Gal antibodies when GalT is ablated. In this study, we developed a vector-based strategy for ablation of GalT function and concurrent expression of membrane cofactor protein (MCP, CD46). We constructed an MCP expression cassette (designated as MCP-IRESneo) and inserted between the left and the right homologous arms to target exon 9 of the GalT gene. Nucleofection of porcine ear skin fibroblasts using the U-023 and V-013 programs resulted in high transfection efficiency and cell survival. We identified 28 clones in which the MCP-IRESneo vector had been successfully targeted to exon 9 of the GalT gene. Two of those clones, with apparent morphologically mitotic fibroblast features were selected through long-term culture. GalT gene expression was downregulated in these 2 clones. Importantly, MCP was shown to be efficiently expressed at the cell surface and to efficiently protect cell lysis against normal human complement serum attack in vitro.

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