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Mol Ther. 2012 Jan;20(1):63-72. doi: 10.1038/mt.2011.196. Epub 2011 Sep 27.

Optimization of hCFTR lung expression in mice using DNA nanoparticles.

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Copernicus Therapeutics, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio 44106, USA.


Efficient and prolonged human cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (hCFTR) expression is a major goal for cystic fibrosis (CF) lung therapy. A hCFTR expression plasmid was optimized as a payload for compacted DNA nanoparticles formulated with polyethylene glycol (PEG)-substituted 30-mer lysine peptides. A codon-optimized and CpG-reduced hCFTR synthetic gene (CO-CFTR) was placed in a polyubiquitin C expression plasmid. Compared to hCFTR complementary DNA (cDNA), CO-CFTR produced a ninefold increased level of hCFTR protein in transfected HEK293 cells and, when compacted as DNA nanoparticles, produced a similar improvement in lung mRNA expression in Balb/c and fatty acid binding protein promoter (FABP) CF mice, although expression duration was transient. Various vector modifications were tested to extend duration of CO-CFTR expression. A novel prolonged expression (PE) element derived from the bovine growth hormone (BGH) gene 3' flanking sequence produced prolonged expression of CO-CFTR mRNA at biologically relevant levels. A time course study in the mouse lung revealed that CO-CFTR mRNA did not change significantly, with CO-CFTR/mCFTR geometric mean ratios of 94% on day 2, 71% on day 14, 53% on day 30, and 14% on day 59. Prolonged CO-CFTR expression is dependent on the orientation of the PE element and its transcription, is not specific to the UbC promoter, and is less dependent on other vector backbone elements.

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