Scientific reports

The β-globin Replicator greatly enhances the potential of S/MAR based episomal vectors for gene transfer into human haematopoietic progenitor cells.

PMID 28106085


Specific human chromosomal elements enhance the performance of episomal gene-transfer vectors. S/MAR-based episomal vector pEPI-eGFP transfects CD34(+) haematopoietic cells, but only transiently. To address this issue we reinforced (1) transgene transcription by replacing the CMV promoter driving eGFP with the EF1/HTLV or SFFV promoters to produce vectors pEPI-EF1/HTLV and pEPI-SFFV, respectively; and (2) plasmid replication by inserting the replication-Initiation Region (IR) from the β-globin locus into vector pEPI-SFFV to produce vector pEP-IR. All vectors supported stable transfections in K562 cells. Transfections of CD34(+) cells from peripheral blood of healthy donors reached 30% efficiency. Upon evaluation of CD34(+)/eGFP(+) cells in colony-forming cell (CFC) assays, vector pEP-IR showed superior performance after 14 days, by fluorescent microscopy: 100% eGFP(+)-colonies against 0% for pEPI-eGFP, 56.9% for pEPI-SFFV and 49.8% for pEPI-EF1/HTLV; 50% more plasmid copies per cell and 3-fold eGFP expression compared to the latter two constructs, by quantitative (q)PCR and RT-qPCR, respectively. Importantly, the establishment rate in CFC assays was 15% for pEP-IR against 5.5% for pEPI-SFFV and 5% for pEPI-EF1/HTLV. Vector pEP-IR shows extremely low delivery rate but supports eGFP expression in thalassaemic mouse haematopoietic progenitor cells. The IR is a novel human control element for improved episomal gene transfer into progenitor cells.

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