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1.  Chromatin structure of two genomic sites for targeted transgene integration in induced pluripotent stem cells and hematopoietic stem cells 
Gene therapy  2012;20(2):201-214.
Achieving transgene integration into preselected genomic sites is currently one of the central tasks in stem cell gene therapy. A strategy to mediate such targeted integration involves site specific endonucleases. Two genomic sites within the MBS85 and CCR5 genes [AAVS1 and CCR5 zinc finger nuclease (CCR5-ZFN) site, respectively] have recently been suggested as potential target regions for integration as their disruption has no functional consequence. We hypothesized that efficient transgene integration maybe affected by DNA accessibility of endonucleases and therefore studied the transcriptional and chromatin status of the AAVS1 and CCR5 sites in eight human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell lines and pooled CD34+ hematopoietic stem cells. Matrixchromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays demonstrated that the CCR5 site and surrounding regions possessed a predominantly closed chromatin configuration consistent with its transcriptionally inactivity in these cell types. In contrast, the AAVS1 site was located within a transcriptionally active region and exhibited an open chromatin configuration in both iPS cells and hematopoietic stem cells. To show that the AAVS1 site is readily amendable to genome modification, we expressed Rep78, an AAV2-derived protein with AAVS1-specific endonuclease activity, in iPS cells after adenoviral gene transfer. We showed that Rep78 efficiently associated with the AAVS1 site and triggered genome modifications within this site. On the other hand, binding to and modification of the CCR5-ZFN site by a zinc-finger nuclease was relatively inefficient. Our data suggest a critical influence of chromatin structure on efficacy of site-specific endonucleases used for genome editing.
PMCID: PMC3661409  PMID: 22436965
2.  Correction: Analysis of Epithelial and Mesenchymal Markers in Ovarian Cancer Reveals Phenotypic Heterogeneity and Plasticity 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(2):10.1371/annotation/8c637352-3614-406c-89dc-e78d10fa069c.
PMCID: PMC3039027
3.  Analysis of Epithelial and Mesenchymal Markers in Ovarian Cancer Reveals Phenotypic Heterogeneity and Plasticity 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(1):e16186.
In our studies of ovarian cancer cells we have identified subpopulations of cells that are in a transitory E/M hybrid stage, i.e. cells that simultaneously express epithelial and mesenchymal markers. E/M cells are not homogenous but, in vitro and in vivo, contain subsets that can be distinguished based on a number of phenotypic features, including the subcellular localization of E-cadherin, and the expression levels of Tie2, CD133, and CD44. A cellular subset (E/M-MP) (membrane E-cadherinlow/cytoplasmic E-cadherinhigh/CD133high, CD44high, Tie2low) is highly enriched for tumor-forming cells and displays features which are generally associated with cancer stem cells. Our data suggest that E/M-MP cells are able to differentiate into different lineages under certain conditions, and have the capacity for self-renewal, i.e. to maintain a subset of undifferentiated E/M-MP cells during differentiation. Trans-differentiation of E/M-MP cells into mesenchymal or epithelial cells is associated with a loss of stem cell markers and tumorigenicity. In vivo xenograft tumor growth is driven by E/M-MP cells, which give rise to epithelial ovarian cancer cells. In contrast, in vitro, we found that E/M-MP cells differentiate into mesenchymal cells, in a process that involves pathways associated with an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. We also detected phenotypic plasticity that was dependent on external factors such as stress created by starvation or contact with either epithelial or mesenchymal cells in co-cultures. Our study provides a better understanding of the phenotypic complexity of ovarian cancer and has implications for ovarian cancer therapy.
PMCID: PMC3021543  PMID: 21264259
4.  In situ adenovirus vaccination engages T effector cells against cancer 
Vaccine  2009;27(31):4225-4239.
The efficacy of cancer-immunotherapy is limited because of central and peripheral immune-tolerance towards tumor-antigens. We propose a novel approach based on the fact that the immune-system has not evolved tolerance towards adenoviruses (Ads) and that Ads have not evolved efficient mechanisms for immune-escape. The host-response to intratumoral Ad-vector-injection in mice that were immunologically tolerant to neu-positive syngeneic mammary-cancer (MMC) was investigated. Intratumoral injection with replication-deficient, transgene-devoid Ad induced immune-responses at two different anatomical sites: the tumor-draining lymph-nodes and the tumor-microenvironment. The lymph-nodes supported the generation of both neu- and Ad-specific T-effector-cells, while inside the tumor-microenvironment only Ad-specific T-cells expanded. Importantly, Ad-specific T-cells were anti-tumor-reactive despite the presence of active regulatory-T-cell-mediated immune-tolerance inside MMC-tumors and anti-tumor efficacy of Ad was increased by pre-immunization against Ad despite the production of Ad-neutralizing antibodies.
PMCID: PMC2727281  PMID: 19481312
5.  Biodistribution and Safety Profile of Recombinant Adeno-Associated Virus Serotype 6 Vectors following Intravenous Delivery ▿  
Journal of Virology  2008;82(15):7711-7715.
Recombinant adeno-associated virus vectors based on serotype 6 (rAAV6) efficiently transduce skeletal muscle after intravenous administration and have shown efficacy in the mdx model of muscular dystrophy. As a prelude to future clinical studies, we investigated the biodistribution and safety profile of rAAV6 in mice. Although it was present in all organs tested, rAAV6 was sequestered mainly in the liver and spleen. rAAV6 had a minimal effect on circulating blood cells and caused no apparent hepatotoxicity or coagulation activation. rAAV6 caused some neutrophil infiltration into the liver, with a transient elevation in cytokine and chemokine transcription/secretion. In summary, rAAV6 induces transient toxicity that subsides almost completely within 72 h and causes no significant side effects.
PMCID: PMC2493321  PMID: 18480442
6.  Evaluation of Biodistribution and Safety of Adenovirus Vectors Containing Group B Fibers after Intravenous Injection into Baboons 
Human gene therapy  2005;16(6):664-677.
Vectors containing group B adenovirus (Ad) fibers are able to efficiently transduce gene therapy targets that are refractory to infection with standard Ad serotype 5 (Ad5) vectors, including malignant tumor cells, hematopoietic stem cells, and dendritic cells. Preliminary studies in mice indicate that, after intravenous injection, B-group fiber-containing Ads do not efficiently transduce most organs and cause less acute toxicity than Ad5 vectors. However, biodistribution and safety studies in mice are of limited value because the mouse analog of the B-group Ad receptor, CD46, is expressed only in the testis, whereas in humans, CD46 is expressed on all nucleated cells. Unlike mice, baboons have CD46 expression patterns and levels that closely mimic those in humans. We conducted a biodistribution and toxicity study of group B Ad fiber-containing vectors in baboons. Animals received phosphate-buffered saline, Ad5-bGal (a first-generation Ad5 vector), or B-group fiber-containing Ads (Ad5/35-bGal and Ad5/11-bGal) at a dose of 2 × 1012 VP/kg, and vector biodistribution and safety was analyzed over 3 days. The amount of Ad5/35-bGal and Ad5/11-bGal vector genomes was in most tissues one to three orders of magnitude below that of Ad5. Significant Ad5/35- and Ad5/11-mediated transgene (β-galactosidase) expression was seen only in the marginal zone of splenic follicles. Compared with the animal that received Ad5-bGal, all animals injected with B-group fiber-containing Ad vectors had lower elevations in serum proinflammatory cytokine levels. Gross and histopathology were normal in animals that received B-group Ad fiber-containing Ads, in contrast to the Ad5-infused animal, which showed widespread endothelial damage and inflammation. In a further study, a chimeric Ad5/35 vector carrying proapoptotic TRAIL and Ad E1A genes under tumor-specific regulation was well tolerated in a 30-day toxicity study. No major clinical, serologic, or pathologic abnormalities were noticed in this animal.
B-group Ad fiber-containing vectors are promising tools for gene therapy, for example, for the treatment of metastatic cancer or cardiovascular diseases, or for vaccination/immunotherapy. However, only a few studies of vectors containing B-group Ad fibers in mice have been conducted so far, and little is known about the mechanisms and effects of B-group Ad vector delivery in vivo. Before these vectors can be considered for clinical application, this knowledge gap must be filled. We performed biodistribution and safety studies after intravenous injection of chimeric Ad5 vectors containing Ad35 and Ad11 fibers into baboons. Our study suggests that Ad vectors possessing B-group Ad fibers have a better safety profile after intravenous injection than do conventional Ad5-based vectors.
PMCID: PMC1351080  PMID: 15960598
7.  Adenovirus-Platelet Interaction in Blood Causes Virus Sequestration to the Reticuloendothelial System of the Liver▿  
Journal of Virology  2007;81(9):4866-4871.
Intravenous (i.v.) delivery of recombinant adenovirus serotype 5 (Ad5) vectors for gene therapy is hindered by safety and efficacy problems. We have discovered a new pathway involved in unspecific Ad5 sequestration and degradation. After i.v. administration, Ad5 rapidly binds to circulating platelets, which causes their activation/aggregation and subsequent entrapment in liver sinusoids. Virus-platelet aggregates are taken up by Kupffer cells and degraded. Ad sequestration in organs can be reduced by platelet depletion prior to vector injection. Identification of this new sequestration mechanism and construction of vectors that avoid it could improve levels of target cell transduction at lower vector doses.
PMCID: PMC1900148  PMID: 17301138
8.  Adenovirus Binding to Blood Factors Results in Liver Cell Infection and Hepatotoxicity 
Journal of Virology  2005;79(12):7478-7491.
Adenoviruses (Ad) are efficient vehicles for gene delivery in vitro and in vivo. Therefore, they are a promising tool in gene therapy, particularly in the treatment of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. However, preclinical and clinical studies undertaken during the last decade have revealed a series of problems that limit both the safety and efficacy of Ad vectors, specifically after intravenous application. Major obstacles to clinical use include innate toxicity and Ad sequestration by nontarget tissues. The factors and mechanisms underlying these processes are poorly understood. The majority of intravenously injected Ad particles are sequestered by the liver, which in turn causes an inflammatory response characterized by acute transaminitis and vascular damage. Here, we describe a novel pathway that is used by Ad for infection of hepatocytes and Kupffer cells upon intravenous virus application in mice. We found that blood factors play a major role in targeting Ad vectors to hepatic cells. We demonstrated that coagulation factor IX and complement component C4-binding protein can bind the Ad fiber knob domain and provide a bridge for virus uptake through cell surface heparan sulfate proteoglycans and low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein. An Ad vector, Ad5mut, which contained mutations in the fiber knob domain ablating blood factor binding, demonstrated significantly reduced infection of liver cells and liver toxicity in vivo. This study contributes to a better understanding of adenovirus-host interactions for intravenously applied vectors. It also provides a rationale for novel strategies to target adenovirus vector to specific tissues and to reduce virus-associated toxicity after systemic application.
PMCID: PMC1143681  PMID: 15919903
10.  Development and Assessment of Human Adenovirus Type 11 as a Gene Transfer Vector 
Journal of Virology  2005;79(8):5090-5104.
Adenovirus vectors based on human serotype 5 (Ad5) have successfully been used as gene transfer vectors in many gene therapy-based approaches to treat disease. Despite their widespread application, many potential therapeutic applications are limited by the widespread prevalence of vector-neutralizing antibodies within the human population and the inability of Ad5-based vectors to transduce important therapeutic target cell types. In an attempt to circumvent these problems, we have developed Ad vectors based on human Ad serotype 11 (Ad11), since the prevalence of neutralizing antibodies to Ad11 in humans is low. E1-deleted Ad11 vector genomes were generated by homologous recombination in 293 cells expressing the Ad11-E1B55K protein or by recombination in Escherichia coli. E1-deleted Ad11 genomes did not display transforming activity in rodent cells. Transduction of primary human CD34+ hematopoietic progenitor cells and immature dendritic cells was more efficient with Ad11 vectors than with Ad5 vectors. Thirty minutes after intravenous injection into mice that express one of the Ad11 receptors (CD46), we found, in a pattern and at a level comparable to what is found in humans, Ad11 vector genomes in all analyzed organs, with the highest amounts in liver, lung, kidney, and spleen. Neither Ad11 genomes nor Ad11 vector-mediated transgene expression were, however, detected at 72 h postinfusion. A large number of Ad11 particles were also found to be associated with circulating blood cells. We also discovered differences in in vitro transduction efficiencies and in vivo biodistributions between Ad11 vectors and chimeric Ad5 vectors possessing Ad11 fibers, indicating that Ad11 capsid proteins other than fibers influence viral infectivity and tropism. Overall, our study provides a basis for the application of Ad11 vectors for in vitro and in vivo gene transfer and for gaining an understanding of the factors that determine Ad tropism.
PMCID: PMC1069572  PMID: 15795294
11.  Deletion of Penton RGD Motifs Affects the Efficiency of both the Internalization and the Endosome Escape of Viral Particles Containing Adenovirus Serotype 5 or 35 Fiber Knobs 
Journal of Virology  2005;79(2):1053-1061.
Adenovirus (Ad) vectors are widely used for gene delivery in vitro and in vivo. A solid understanding of the biology of this virus is imperative for the development of novel, effective, and safe vectors. For the group C adenovirus serotypes 2 and 5 that use CAR as a primary attachment receptor, it is known that the penton base RGD motifs interact with cellular integrins and that this interaction promotes virus internalization. However, the RGD motif's impact on the efficiency of postinternalization steps, such as the escape of the virus particle from the endosome, is less defined. Furthermore, the role of penton-integrin interactions remains unknown for new vectors possessing group B Ad fiber knobs that use CD46 as a primary virus attachment receptor. In this study, we used vectors with the RGD motif deleted that contained Ad5 and B-group Ad35 fiber knobs and long fiber shafts and studied the role of RGD-integrin interactions in virus internalization and endosome escape. The deletion of the RGD motif in the penton base did not affect virus attachment, regardless of the type of cellular receptor used for attachment. RGD motif deletion, however, significantly reduced the rate of virus internalization for both the Ad5 and Ad35 fiber knob-containing vectors. This study also demonstrates the role of penton RGD motifs in facilitating the endosome escape step of virus infection and indicates that penton-integrin interactions are involved in internalization of capsid-chimeric CD46-interacting Ads with long fiber shafts.
PMCID: PMC538548  PMID: 15613334
12.  Genome Size and Structure Determine Efficiency of Postinternalization Steps and Gene Transfer of Capsid-Modified Adenovirus Vectors in a Cell-Type-Specific Manner 
Journal of Virology  2004;78(18):10009-10022.
Adenovirus serotype 5 (Ad5) vectors containing Ad B-group fibers have become increasingly popular as gene transfer vectors because they efficiently transduce human cell types that are relatively refractory to Ad5 infection. So far, most B-group fiber-containing vectors have been first-generation vectors, deleted of E1 and/or E3 genes. Transduction with these vectors, however, results in viral gene expression and is associated with cytotoxicity and immune responses against transduced cells. To circumvent these problems, we developed fiber-chimeric Ad vectors devoid of all viral genes that were produced either by the homologous recombination of first-generation vectors or by using the Cre/lox-based helper virus system. In this study we compared early steps of infection between first-generation (35-kb genome) and Ad vectors devoid of all viral genes with genome sizes of 28 kb and 12.6 kb. All vectors possessed an Ad35-derived fiber knob domain, which uses CD46 as a primary attachment receptor. Using immortalized human hematopoietic cell lines and primary human CD34-positive hematopoietic cells, we found that the Ad genome size did not affect the efficiency of virus attachment to and internalization into cells. Furthermore, independently of the genome length and structure, all vectors migrated to the nucleus through late endosomal and lysosomal cellular compartments. However, the vector containing the short 12.6-kb genome was unable to efficiently escape from endosomes and deliver its DNA into the nucleus. Moreover, compared to other vectors, these Ad particles were less stable and had an abnormal capsid protein composition, including a lack of capsid-stabilizing protein IX. Our data indicate that the size and structure of the packaged viral genomes can affect the integrity of Ad particles, which in turn results in lower infectivity of Ad vectors.
PMCID: PMC514985  PMID: 15331734
13.  Analysis of Adenovirus Sequestration in the Liver, Transduction of Hepatic Cells, and Innate Toxicity after Injection of Fiber-Modified Vectors 
Journal of Virology  2004;78(10):5368-5381.
After intravenous administration, adenovirus (Ad) vectors are predominantly sequestered by the liver. Delineating the mechanisms for Ad accumulation in the liver is crucial for a better understanding of Ad clearance and Ad-associated innate toxicity. To help address these issues, in this study, we used Ad vectors with different fiber shaft lengths and either coxsackievirus-Ad receptor (CAR)-interacting Ad serotype 9 (Ad9) or non-CAR-interacting Ad35 fiber knob domains. We analyzed the kinetics of Ad vector accumulation in the liver, uptake into hepatocytes and Kupffer cells, and induction of cytokine expression and release in response to systemic vector application. Immediately after intravenous injection, all Ad vectors accumulated equally efficiently in the liver; however, only genomes of long-shafted Ads were maintained in the liver tissue over time. We found that Kupffer cell uptake of long-shafted Ads was mediated by the fiber knob domain and was CAR independent. The short-shafted Ads were unable to efficiently interact with hepatocellular receptors and were not taken up by Kupffer cells. Moreover, our studies indicated that Kupffer cells were not the major reservoir for the observed accumulation of Ads (used in this study) in the liver within the first 30 min after virus infusion. The lower level of liver cell transduction by short-shafted Ads correlated with a significantly reduced inflammatory anti-Ad response as well as liver damage induced by the systemic administration of these vectors. This study contributes to a better understanding of the biology of systemically applied Ad and will help in designing safer vectors that can efficiently transduce target tissues.
PMCID: PMC400378  PMID: 15113916
14.  The Interaction between the Fiber Knob Domain and the Cellular Attachment Receptor Determines the Intracellular Trafficking Route of Adenoviruses 
Journal of Virology  2003;77(6):3712-3723.
Most of the presently used adenovirus (Ad) vectors are based on serotype 5. However, the application of these vectors is limited by the native tropism of Ad5. To address this problem, a series of fiber chimeric vectors were produced to take advantage of the different cellular receptors used by Ad of different subgroups. In this study we utilize an Ad5-based chimeric vector containing sequences encoding the Ad35 fiber knob domain instead of the Ad5 knob (Ad5/35L) to analyze factors responsible for selection of intracellular trafficking routes by Ads. By competition analysis with recombinant Ad5 and Ad35 knobs we showed that the Ad5/35L vector infected cells through a receptor different from the Ad5 receptor. Intracellular trafficking of Ad5 and Ad5/35L viruses was analyzed in HeLa cells by tracking fluorophore-conjugated Ad particles, by immunostaining for capsid hexon protein, by electron microscopy, and by Southern blotting for viral DNA. These studies showed that the interaction with the Ad35 receptor(s) predestines Ad5/35L vector to intracellular trafficking pathways different from those of Ad5. Ad5 efficiently escaped from the endosomes early after infection. In contrast, Ad5/35L remained longer in late endosomal/lysosomal compartments and used them to achieve localization to the nucleus. However, a significant portion of Ad5/35L particles appeared to be recycled back to the cell surface. This phenomenon resulted in significantly less efficient Ad5/35L-mediated gene transfer compared to that of Ad5. We also demonstrated that the selection of intracellular trafficking routes was determined by the fiber knob domain and did not depend on the length of the fiber shaft. This study contributes to a better understanding of the mechanisms that govern the infection of retargeted, capsid-modified vectors which have potential application for hematopoietic stem cell and tumor gene therapy.
PMCID: PMC149506  PMID: 12610146
15.  A New Type of Adenovirus Vector That Utilizes Homologous Recombination To Achieve Tumor-Specific Replication 
Journal of Virology  2002;76(21):10994-11002.
We have developed a new class of adenovirus vectors that selectively replicate in tumor cells. The vector design is based on our recent observation that a variety of human tumor cell lines support DNA replication of adenovirus vectors with deletions of the E1A and E1B genes, whereas primary human cells or mouse liver cells in vivo do not. On the basis of this tumor-selective replication, we developed an adenovirus system that utilizes homologous recombination between inverted repeats to mediate precise rearrangements within the viral genome resulting in replication-dependent activation of transgene expression in tumors (Ad.IR vectors). Here, we used this system to achieve tumor-specific expression of adenoviral wild-type E1A in order to enhance viral DNA replication and spread within tumor metastases. In vitro DNA replication and cytotoxicity studies demonstrated that the mechanism of E1A-enhanced replication of Ad.IR-E1A vectors is efficiently and specifically activated in tumor cells, but not in nontransformed human cells. Systemic application of the Ad.IR-E1A vector into animals with liver metastases achieved transgene expression exclusively in tumors. The number of transgene-expressing tumor cells within metastases increased over time, indicating viral spread. Furthermore, the Ad.IR-E1A vector demonstrated antitumor efficacy in subcutaneous and metastatic models. These new Ad.IR-E1A vectors combine elements that allow for tumor-specific transgene expression, efficient viral replication, and spread in liver metastases after systemic vector application.
PMCID: PMC136641  PMID: 12368342
16.  Nuclear Import of Moloney Murine Leukemia Virus DNA Mediated by Adenovirus Preterminal Protein Is Not Sufficient for Efficient Retroviral Transduction in Nondividing Cells 
Journal of Virology  2000;74(2):721-734.
Moloney murine leukemia virus (MoMLV)-derived vectors require cell division for efficient transduction, which may be related to an inability of the viral DNA-protein complex to cross the nuclear membrane. In contrast, adenoviruses (Ad) can efficiently infect nondividing cells. This property may be due to the presence of multiple nuclear translocation signals in a number of Ad proteins, which are associated with the incoming viral genomes. Of particular interest is the Ad preterminal protein (pTP), which binds alone or in complex with the Ad polymerase to specific sequences in the Ad inverted terminal repeat. The goal of this study was to test whether coexpression of pTP with retroviral DNA carrying pTP-binding sites would facilitate nuclear import of the viral preintegration complex and transduction of quiescent cells. In preliminary experiments, we demonstrated that the karyophylic pTP can coimport plasmid DNA into the nuclei of growth-arrested cells. Retroviral transduction studies were performed with G1/S-arrested LTA cells or stationary-phase human primary fibroblasts. These studies demonstrated that pTP or pTP-Ad polymerase conferred nuclear import of retroviral DNA upon arrested cells when the retrovirus vector contained the corresponding binding motifs. However, pTP-mediated nuclear translocation of MoMLV DNA in nondividing cells was not sufficient for stable transduction. Additional cellular factors activated during S phase or DNA repair synthesis were required for efficient retroviral integration.
PMCID: PMC111592  PMID: 10623734

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