Gene therapy

Persistence of hAQP1 expression in human salivary gland cells following AdhAQP1 transduction is associated with a lack of methylation of hCMV promoter.

PMID 26177970


In 2012, we reported that 5 out of 11 subjects in a clinical trial (NCT00372320) administering AdhAQP1 to radiation-damaged parotid glands showed increased saliva flow rates and decreased symptoms over the initial 42 days. AdhAQP1 is a first-generation, E1-deleted, replication-defective, serotype 5 adenoviral vector encoding human aquaporin-1 (hAQP1). This vector uses the human cytomegalovirus enhancer/promoter (hCMVp). As subject peak responses were at times much longer (7-42 days) than expected, we hypothesized that the hCMVp may not be methylated in human salivary gland cells to the extent previously observed in rodent salivary gland cells. This hypothesis was supported in human salivary gland primary cultures and human salivary gland cell lines after transduction with AdhAQP1. Importantly, hAQP1 maintained its function in those cells. Conversely, when we transduced mouse and rat cell lines in vitro and submandibular glands in vivo with AdhAQP1, the hCMVp was gradually methylated over time and associated with decreased hAQP1 expression and function in vitro and decreased hAQP1 expression in vivo. These data suggest that the hCMVp in AdhAQP1was probably not methylated in transduced human salivary gland cells of responding subjects, resulting in an unexpectedly longer functional expression of hAQP1.