Virus research

MGMT enrichment and second gene co-expression in hematopoietic progenitor cells using separate or dual-gene lentiviral vectors.

PMID 25479595


The DNA repair gene O(6)-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) allows efficient in vivo enrichment of transduced hematopoietic stem cells (HSC). Thus, linking this selection strategy to therapeutic gene expression offers the potential to reconstitute diseased hematopoietic tissue with gene-corrected cells. However, different dual-gene expression vector strategies are limited by poor expression of one or both transgenes. To evaluate different co-expression strategies in the context of MGMT-mediated HSC enrichment, we compared selection and expression efficacies in cells cotransduced with separate single-gene MGMT and GFP lentivectors to those obtained with dual-gene vectors employing either encephalomyocarditis virus (EMCV) internal ribosome entry site (IRES) or foot and mouth disease virus (FMDV) 2A elements for co-expression strategies. Each strategy was evaluated in vitro and in vivo using equivalent multiplicities of infection (MOI) to transduce 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) or Lin(-)Sca-1(+)c-kit(+) (LSK)-enriched murine bone marrow cells (BMCs). The highest dual-gene expression (MGMT(+)GFP(+)) percentages were obtained with the FMDV-2A dual-gene vector, but half of the resulting gene products existed as fusion proteins. Following selection, dual-gene expression percentages in single-gene vector cotransduced and dual-gene vector transduced populations were similar. Equivalent MGMT expression levels were obtained with each strategy, but GFP expression levels derived from the IRES dual-gene vector were significantly lower. In mice, vector-insertion averages were similar among cells enriched after dual-gene vectors and those cotransduced with single-gene vectors. These data demonstrate the limitations and advantages of each strategy in the context of MGMT-mediated selection, and may provide insights into vector design with respect to a particular therapeutic gene or hematologic defect.