We previously reported the effects of herpes simplex virus (HSV) vector–mediated enkephalin on bladder overactivity and pain. In this study, we evaluated the effects of vHPPE (E1G6-ENK), a newly engineered replication-deficient HSV vector encoding human preproenkephalin (hPPE). vHPPE or control vector was injected into the bladder wall of female rats 2 weeks prior to the following studies. A reverse-transcription PCR study showed high hPPE transgene levels in L6 dorsal root ganglia innervating the bladder in the vHPPE group. The number of freezing behaviors, which is a nociceptive reaction associated with bladder pain, was also significantly lower in the vHPPE group compared with the control group. The number of L6 spinal cord c-fos–positive cells and the urinary interleukin (IL)-1β and IL-6 levels after resiniferatoxin (RTx) administration into the bladder of the vHPPE group were significantly lower compared with those of the control vector–injected group. In continuous cystometry, the vHPPE group showed a smaller reduction in intercontraction interval after RTx administration into the bladder. This antinociceptive effect was antagonized by naloxone hydrochloride. Thus, the HSV vector vHPPE encoding hPPE demonstrated physiological improvement in visceral pain induced by bladder irritation. Gene therapy may represent a potentially useful treatment modality for bladder hypersensitive disorders such as bladder pain syndrome/interstitial cystitis.
Yokoyama and colleagues evaluate the efficacy of a newly developed replication-deficient herpes simplex virus (HSV) vector encoding human preproenkephalin (hPPE) in a rat model of bladder pain. They show that this approach results in a reduction of urinary levels of IL-1β and IL-6 and leads to significant improvements in visceral pain induced by bladder irritation.
Diseases of the nervous system have devastating effects and are widely distributed among the population, being especially prevalent in the elderly. These diseases are often caused by inherited genetic mutations that result in abnormal nervous system development, neurodegeneration, or impaired neuronal function. Other causes of neurological diseases include genetic and epigenetic changes induced by environmental insults, injury, disease-related events or inflammatory processes. Standard medical and surgical practice has not proved effective in curing or treating these diseases, and appropriate pharmaceuticals do not exist or are insufficient to slow disease progression. Gene therapy is emerging as a powerful approach with potential to treat and even cure some of the most common diseases of the nervous system. Gene therapy for neurological diseases has been made possible through progress in understanding the underlying disease mechanisms, particularly those involving sensory neurons, and also by improvement of gene vector design, therapeutic gene selection, and methods of delivery. Progress in the field has renewed our optimism for gene therapy as a treatment modality that can be used by neurologists, ophthalmologists and neurosurgeons. In this Review, we describe the promising gene therapy strategies that have the potential to treat patients with neurological diseases and discuss prospects for future development of gene therapy.
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-associated B cell lymphoproliferative disease (LPD) after hematopoietic stem cell or solid organ transplantation remains a life-threatening complication. Expression of the virus-encoded gene product, EBER, has been shown to prevent apoptosis via blockade of PKR activation. Because PKR is a major cellular defense against Herpes simplex virus, and oncolytic HSV-1 (oHSV) mutants have shown promising anti-tumor efficacy in preclinical models, we sought to determine whether EBV-LPD cells are susceptible to infection by oHSVs. We tested three primary EBV-infected lymphocyte cell cultures from neuroblastoma (NB) patients as models of naturally acquired EBV-LPD. NB12 was most susceptible, NB122R was intermediate, and NB88R2 was essentially resistant. Despite EBER expression, PKR was activated by oHSV infection. Susceptibility to oHSV correlated with the expression of the HSV receptor, nectin-1. The resistance of NB88R2 was reversed by exogenous nectin-1 expression, whereas down-regulation of nectin-1 on NB12 decreased viral entry. Xenografts derived from the EBV-LPDs exhibited only mild (NB12) or no (NB88R2) response to oHSV injection, compared with a neuroblastoma cell line that showed a significant response. We conclude that EBV-LPDs are relatively resistant to oHSV virotherapy, in some cases due to low virus receptor expression but also due to intact anti-viral PKR signaling.
oHSV; EBV-LPD; HSV-1 entry receptors
Chronic pain is a major health concern affecting 80 million Americans at some time in their lives with significant associated morbidity and effects on individual quality of life. Chronic pain can result from a variety of inflammatory and nerve damaging events that include cancer, infectious diseases, autoimmune-related syndromes and surgery. Current pharmacotherapies have not provided an effective long-term solution as they are limited by drug tolerance and potential abuse. These concerns have led to the development and testing of gene therapy approaches to treat chronic pain. The potential efficacy of gene therapy for pain has been reported in numerous pre-clinical studies that demonstrate pain control at the level of the spinal cord. This promise has been recently supported by a Phase-I human trial in which a replication-defective herpes simplex virus (HSV) vector was used to deliver the human pre-proenkephalin (hPPE) gene, encoding the natural opioid peptides met- and leu-enkephalin (ENK), to cancer patients with intractable pain resulting from bone metastases (Fink et al., 2011). The study showed that the therapy was well tolerated and that patients receiving the higher doses of therapeutic vector experienced a substantial reduction in their overall pain scores for up to a month post vector injection. These exciting early clinical results await further patient testing to demonstrate treatment efficacy and will likely pave the way for other gene therapies to treat chronic pain.
Gene therapy; Viral vectors; Neuropathic pain; Nociceptive pain; Peripheral nervous system; Spinal cord; Animal models; Herpes simplex virus; Lentivirus; Retrovirus; Adenovirus; Adeno-associated virus; Plasmid DNA; Enkephalin; Endorphin; Glutamic acid decarboxylase; Interleukins; Neurotransmitters; Neurotrophins
Copper in serum supports angiogenesis and inhibits replication of wild type HSV-1. Copper chelation is currently being investigated as an anti-angiogenic and anti-neoplastic agent in patients diagnosed with cancer. Herpes simplex virus derived oncolytic viruses (oHSVs) are being evaluated for safety and efficacy in patients, but several host barriers limit their efficacy. Here, we tested if copper inhibits oHSV infection and replication and if copper chelation would augment therapeutic efficacy of oHSV.
Subcutaneous and intracranial tumor bearing mice were treated with oHSV ± ATN-224 to evaluate tumor burden and survival. Virus replication and cell killing was measured in the presence or absence of the copper chelating agent ATN-224 and in the presence or absence of copper in vitro. Micro-vessel density and changes in perfusion were evaluated by immuno-histochemistry and DCE-MRI. Serum stability of oHSV was measured in mice fed with ATN-224. Tumor bearing mice were injected intravenously with oHSV; tumor burden and amount of virus in tumor tissue was evaluated.
Combination of systemic ATN-224 and oHSV significantly reduced tumor growth and prolonged animal survival. Immunohistochemistry and DCE-MRI imaging confirmed that ATN-224 reduced oHSV-induced blood vessel density and vascular leakage. Copper at physiologically relevant concentrations inhibited oHSV replication and glioma cell killing and this effect was rescued by ATN-224. ATN-224 increased serum stability of oHSV and enhanced the efficacy of systemic delivery.
This study shows that combining ATN-224 with oHSV, significantly increased serum stability of oHSV and greatly enhanced its replication and antitumor efficacy.
Glioblastoma (GBM); Oncolytic Virus (OV); Herpes Simplex Virus-1 (HSV-1); ATN-224; Copper ions (Copper)
Both entry and cell-to-cell spread of herpes simplex virus (HSV) involve a cascade of cooperative interactions among the essential glycoproteins D, B, and H/L (gD, gB, and gH/gL, respectively) initiated by the binding of gD to a cognate HSV entry receptor. We previously reported that a variant (D285N/A549T) of glycoprotein B (gB:NT) enabled primary virus entry into cells that were devoid of typical HSV entry receptors. Here, we compared the activities of the gB:NT variant with those of a newly selected variant of glycoprotein H (gH:KV) and a frequently coselected gB variant (gB:S668N). In combination, gH:KV and gB:S668N enabled primary virus entry into cells that lacked established HSV entry receptors as efficiently as did gB:NT, but separately, each variant enabled only limited entry. Remarkably, gH:KV uniquely facilitated secondary virus spread between cells that lacked canonical entry receptors. Transient expression of the four essential entry glycoproteins revealed that gH:KV, but not gB:NT, induced fusion between cells lacking the standard receptors. Because the involvement of gD remained essential for virus spread and cell fusion, we propose that gH:KV mimics a transition state of gH that responds efficiently to weak signals from gD to reach the active state. Computational modeling of the structures of wild-type gH and gH:KV revealed relatively subtle differences that may have accounted for our experimental findings. Our study shows that (i) the dependence of HSV-1 entry and spread on specific gD receptors can be reduced by sequence changes in the downstream effectors gB and gH, and (ii) the relative roles of gB and gH are different in entry and spread.
The calcium pump SERCA2a (sarcoplasmic reticulum calcium ATPase 2a), which plays a central role in cardiac contraction, shows decreased expression in heart failure (HF). Increasing SERCA2a expression in HF models improves cardiac function. We used direct cardiac delivery of adeno-associated virus encoding human SERCA2a (AAV6-hSERCA2a) in HF and normal canine models to study safety, efficacy, and the effects of immunosuppression. Tachycardic-paced dogs received left ventricle (LV) wall injection of AAV6-hSERCA2a or solvent. Pacing continued postinjection for 2 or 6 weeks, until euthanasia. Tissue/serum samples were analyzed for hSERCA2a expression (Western blot) and immune responses (histology and AAV6-neutralizing antibodies). Nonpaced dogs received AAV6-hSERCA2a and were analyzed at 12 weeks; a parallel cohort received AAV-hSERCA2a and immunosuppression. AAV-mediated cardiac expression of hSERCA2a peaked at 2 weeks and then declined (to ∼50%; p<0.03, 6 vs. 2 weeks). LV end diastolic and end systolic diameters decreased in 6-week dogs treated with AAV6-hSERCA2a (p<0.05) whereas LV diameters increased in control dogs. Dogs receiving AAV6-hSERCA2a developed neutralizing antibodies (titer ≥1:120) and cardiac cellular infiltration. Immunosuppression dramatically reduced immune responses (reduced inflammation and neutralizing antibody titers <1:20), and maintained hSERCA2a expression. Thus cardiac injection of AAV6-hSERCA2a promotes local hSERCA2a expression and improves cardiac function. However, the hSERCA2a protein level is reduced by host immune responses. Immunosuppression alleviates immune responses and sustains transgene expression, and may be an important adjuvant for clinical gene therapy trials.
Zhu and colleagues employ direct cardiac delivery of adeno-associated virus encoding the human calcium pump SERCA2a (AAV6-hSERCA2a) in heart failure and normal canine models in order to study the safety and efficacy of the approach as well as the effects of concomitant immunosuppressant treatment. Tachycardic-paced dogs injected with AAV6-hSERCA2a via the left ventricle wall displayed hSERCA2a expression and improved cardiac function, although hSERCA2a protein levels were reduced by host immune responses. Immunosuppression dramatically reduced inflammation and neutralizing antibody titers while maintaining hSERCA2a expression.
Sox11 is a high mobility group (HMG) containing transcription factor that is significantly elevated in peripheral neurons in response to nerve injury. In vitro and in vivo studies support a central role for Sox11 in adult neuron growth and survival following injury. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a pleiotropic growth factor that has effects on neuronal survival, differentiation, synaptic plasticity and regeneration. BDNF transcription is elevated in the DRG following nerve injury in parallel with Sox11 allowing for the possible regulation by Sox11. To begin to assess the possible influence of Sox11 we used reverse transcriptase PCR assays to determine the relative expression of the nine (I-IXa) noncoding exons and one coding exon (exon IX) of the BDNF gene after sciatic nerve axotomy in the mouse. Exons with upstream promoter regions containing the Sox binding motif 5′-AACAAAG-3′ (I, IV, VII and VIII) were increased at 1d or 3d following axotomy. Exons 1 and IV showed the greatest increase and only exon 1 remained elevated at 3d. Luciferase assays showed that Sox11 could activate the most highly regulated exons, I and IV, and that this activation was reduced by mutation of putative Sox binding sites. Exon expression in injured DRG neurons had some overlap with Neuro2a cells that overexpress Sox11, showing elevation in exon IV and VII transcripts. These findings indicate cell type and contextual specificity of Sox11 in modulation of BDNF transcription.
sensory neuron; nerve regeneration; BDNF; neurotrophin; sry
Oncolytic viral therapy has been explored widely as an option for glioma treatment but its effectiveness has remained limited. CCN1 is an extracellular matrix (ECM) protein elevated in cancer cells that modulates their adhesion and migration by binding cell surface receptors. In this study, we examined an hypothesized role for CCN1 in limiting the efficacy of oncolytic viral therapy for glioma, based on evidence of CCN1 induction that occurs in this setting. Strikingly, we found that exogenous CCN1 in glioma ECM orchestrated a cellular antiviral response that reduced viral replication and limited cytolytic efficacy. Gene expression profiling and real time PCR analysis revealed a significant induction of type-I interferon responsive genes in response to CCN1 exposure. This induction was accompanied by activation of the Jak/Stat signaling pathway, consistent with induction of an innate antiviral cellular response. Both effects were mediated by the binding of CCN1 to the cell surface integrin α6β1, activating its signaling and leading to rapid secretion of interferon-α, which was essential for the innate antiviral effect. Together, our findings reveal how an integrin signaling pathway mediates activation of a type-I antiviral interferon response that can limit the efficacy of oncolytic viral therapy. Further, they suggest therapeutic interventions to inhibit CCN1-integrin α6 interactions to sensitize gliomas to viral oncolysis.
CCN1; Cyr61; Glioma; Oncolytic Virus
Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) entry into permissive cells involves attachment to cell-surface glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) and fusion of the virus envelope with the cell membrane triggered by the binding of glycoprotein D (gD) to cognate receptors. In this study, we characterized the observation that soluble forms of the gD ectodomain (sgD) can mediate entry of gD-deficient HSV-1. We examined the efficiency and receptor specificity of this activity and used sequential incubation protocols to determine the order and stability of the initial interactions required for entry. Surprisingly, virus binding to GAGs did not increase the efficiency of sgD-mediated entry and gD-deficient virus was capable of attaching to GAG-deficient cells in the absence of sgD. These observations suggested a novel binding interaction that may play a role in normal HSV infection.
HSV-1; glycoprotein D (gD); glycosaminoglycans; nectin-1; HVEM; soluble glycoprotein; virus entry
Factors that enhance the intrinsic growth potential of adult neurons are key players in the successful repair and regeneration of neurons following injury. Injury-induced activation of transcription factors has a central role in this process because they regulate expression of regeneration-associated genes. Sox11 is a developmentally expressed transcription factor that is significantly induced in adult neurons in response to injury. Its function in injured neurons is however undefined. Here, we report studies that use herpes simplex virus (HSV)-vector-mediated expression of Sox11 in adult sensory neurons to assess the effect of Sox11 overexpression on neuron regeneration. Cultured mouse dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neurons transfected with HSV-Sox11 exhibited increased neurite elongation and branching relative to naïve and HSV-vector control treated neurons. Neurons from mice injected in foot skin with HSV-Sox11 exhibited accelerated regeneration of crushed saphenous nerves as indicated by faster regrowth of axons and nerve fibers to the skin, increased myelin thickness and faster return of nerve and skin sensitivity. Downstream targets of HSV-Sox11 were examined by analyzing changes in gene expression of known regeneration-associated genes. This analysis in combination with mutational and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays indicates that the ability of Sox11 to accelerate in vivo nerve regeneration is dependent on its transcriptional activation of the regeneration-associated gene, small proline rich protein 1a (Sprr1a). This finding reveals a new functional linkage between Sox11 and Sprr1a in adult peripheral neuron regeneration.
transcriptional control; sry; skin delivery; saphenous nerve injury; HSV vector
Successful oncolytic virus treatment of malignant glioblastoma multiforme depends on widespread tumor-specific lytic virus replication and escape from mitigating innate immune responses to infection. Here we characterize a new HSV vector, JD0G, that is deleted for ICP0 and the joint sequences separating the unique long and short elements of the viral genome. We observed that JD0G replication was enhanced in certain glioblastoma cell lines compared to HEL cells, suggesting that a vector backbone deleted for ICP0 may be useful for treatment of glioblastoma. The innate immune response to virus infection can potentially impede oncolytic vector replication in human tumors. Indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) is expressed in response to interferon γ (IFNγ) and has been linked to both antiviral functions and to the immune escape of tumor cells. We observed that IFNγ treatment of human glioblastoma cells induced the expression of IDO and that this expression was quelled by infection with both wild-type and JD0G viruses. The role of IDO in inhibiting virus replication and the connection of this protein to the escape of tumor cells from immune surveillance suggest that IDO downregulation by HSV infection may enhance the oncolytic activity of vectors such as JD0G.
Preclinical evidence indicates that gene transfer to the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) using replication defective herpes simplex virus (HSV)-based vectors can reduce pain-related behavior in animal models of pain. This clinical trial was carried out to assess the safety and explore the potential efficacy of this approach in humans.
We conducted a multicenter, dose-escalation, Phase I clinical trial of NP2, a replication defective HSV-based vector expressing human preproenkephalin (PENK) in subjects with intractable focal pain caused by cancer. NP2 was injected intradermally into the dermatome(s) corresponding to the radicular distribution of pain. The primary outcome was safety. As secondary measures, efficacy of pain relief was assessed using a numeric rating scale (NRS), the Short Form McGill Pain Questionnaire (SF-MPQ) and concurrent opiate usage.
Ten subjects with moderate to severe intractable pain despite treatment with more than 200 mg/day of morphine (or equivalent) were enrolled into the study. Treatment was well tolerated with no study agent-related serious adverse events (SAE) observed at any point in the study. Subjects receiving the low dose of NP2 reported no substantive change in pain. Subjects in the middle and high dose cohorts reported pain relief as assessed by NRS and SF-MPQ.
Treatment of intractable pain with NP2 was well tolerated. There were no placebo controls in this relatively small study, but the dose-responsive analgesic effects suggest that NP2 may be effective in reducing pain and warrants further clinical investigation.
Peripheral neuropathy is a common aging-related degenerative disorder that interferes with daily activities and leads to increased risk of falls and injury in the elderly. The etiology of most aging-related peripheral neuropathy is unknown. Inherited defects in several genome maintenance mechanisms cause tissue-specific accelerated aging, including neurodegeneration. We tested the hypothesis that a murine model of XFE progeroid syndrome, caused by reduced expression of ERCC1-XPF DNA repair endonuclease, develops peripheral neuropathy. Nerve conduction studies revealed normal nerve function in young adult (8 week) Ercc1−/Δ mice, but significant abnormalities in 20 week-old animals. Morphologic and ultrastructural analysis of the sciatic nerve from mutant mice revealed significant alterations at 20 but not 8 weeks of age. We conclude that Ercc1−/Δ mice have accelerated spontaneous peripheral neurodegeneration that mimics aging-related disease. This provides strong evidence that DNA damage can drive peripheral neuropathy and offers a rapid and novel model to test therapies.
Xeroderma pigmentosum; progeria; neurodegeneration; DNA repair; nerve conduction; nerve morphology
Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome (HGPS) is a genetic disease in which children develop pathologies associated with old age. HGPS is caused by a mutation in the LMNA gene, resulting in the formation of a dominant negative form of the intermediate filament, nuclear structural protein lamin A, termed progerin. Expression of progerin alters the nuclear architecture and heterochromatin, affecting cell cycle progression and genomic stability. Two groups recently reported the successful generation and characterization of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from HGPS fibroblasts. Remarkably, progerin expression and senescence phenotypes are lost in iPSCs but not in differentiated progeny. These new HGPS iPSCs are valuable for characterizing the role of progerin in driving HGPS and aging and for screening therapeutic strategies to prevent or delay cell senescence.
Herpes simplex virus entry into cells requires the binding of envelope glycoprotein D (gD) to an entry receptor. Depending on the cell, entry occurs by different mechanisms, including fusion at the cell surface or endocytosis. Here we examined the entry mechanism through a non-HSV receptor mediated by a soluble bi-specific adapter protein composed of recognition elements for gD and the EGF receptor (EGFR). Virus entered into endosomes using either EGF or an EGFR-specific single chain antibody (scFv) for receptor recognition. Infection was less efficient with the EGF adapter which could be attributed to its weaker binding to viral gD. Infection mediated by the scFv adapter was pH sensitive, indicating that gD-EGFR bridging alone was insufficient for capsid release from endosomes. We also show that the scFv adapter enhanced infection of EGFR-expressing tumor tissue in vivo. Our results indicate that adapters may retarget HSV infection without drastically changing the entry mechanism.
HSV entry; bispecific adapter; EGF receptor; endocytosis; fusion
Oncolytic HSV (oHSV) vectors have shown promise in the treatment of patients with recurrent brain tumors although few complete responses have accrued. Impediments to effective therapy include limited vector distribution on delivery, a consequence of injected virion particle trapping in the tumor extracellular matrix (ECM). To enhance virus delivery and spread, we investigated the use of the matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP9) as a means to degrade collagen type IV, a major component of the ECM and basement membranes of gliomas that is absent in normal brain tissue. SK-N-AS neuroblastoma cells were transduced for constitutive, elevated expression of MMP9, which did not enhance tumor cell migration in vitro or tumor progression in a murine xenograft brain tumor model. MMP9 expression afforded increased distribution of oHSV vector-infected tumor cell spheroids and afforded vector infection over larger areas of brain tumors in vivo. These results suggest that vector delivery and distribution in vivo can be improved by compromising the ECM, potentially enhancing oncolytic efficacy.
Glioblastoma multiforme is one of the most common human brain tumors. The tumor is generally highly infiltrative, making it extremely difficult to treat by surgical resection or radiotherapy. This feature contributes to recurrence and a very poor prognosis. Few anticancer drugs have been shown to alter rapid tumor growth and none are ultimately effective. Oncolytic vectors have been employed as a treatment alternative based on the ability to tailor virus replication to tumor cells. The human neurotropic herpes simplex virus (HSV) is especially attractive for development of oncolytic vectors (oHSV) because this virus is highly infectious, replicates rapidly and can be readily modified to achieve vector attenuation in normal brain tissue. Tumor specificity can be achieved by deleting viral genes that are only required for virus replication in normal cells and permit mutant virus replication selectively in tumor cells. The anti-tumor activity of oHSV can be enhanced by arming the vector with genes that either activate chemotherapeutic drugs within the tumor tissue or promote anti-tumor immunity. In this review, we describe current designs of oHSV and the experience thus far with their potential utility for glioblastoma therapy. In addition, we discuss the impediments to vector effectiveness and describe our view of future developments in vector improvement.
gene therapy; glioblastoma; HSV oncolytic vector
We investigated whether replication-defective herpes simplex virus (HSV) vectors encoding genes of glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), the gamma-aminobutyric acid synthesis enzyme, can suppress detrusor-sphincter dyssynergia (DSD) in rats with spinal cord injury (SCI).
Materials and Methods
One week after spinalization, HSV vectors expressing GAD and green fluorescent protein (HSV-GAD) were injected to the bladder wall. SCI rats without HSV injection (sham) and those injected with LacZ-encoding HSV vectors (HSV-LacZ) were used as controls. Three weeks after viral injection, simultaneous recordings of urethral pressure and intravesical pressure were performed under an awake condition in three groups.
In the HSV-GAD group, the urethral pressure rise during bladder contractions was significantly reduced by 77–79% compared with sham or HSV-LacZ groups, but bladder activity and urethral baseline pressure were not different among three groups. Intrathecal application of bicuculline, a GABAA antagonist, almost completely reversed the decrease in urethral pressure rise during bladder contractions whereas intrathecal saclofen, a GABAB antagonist, partially reversed it. In the HSV-GAD group, GAD67 mRNA was significantly increased in L6-S1 dorsal root ganglia, where bladder afferents originate, compared with the HSV-LacZ group.
HSV-based GAD gene transfer to bladder afferent pathway may represent a novel approach for the treatment of DSD in SCI.
gene therapy; detrusor overactivity; detrusor-sphincter dyssynergia; GABA; spinalized; C-fiber bladder afferents
Importance of the field
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a major men’s health problem. Although the high success rate of treating ED by phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5) inhibitors has been reported, there are a significant number of ED patients who do not respond to currently available treatment modalities.
Areas covered in this review
To understand the current status of gene therapy application for ED, gene therapy approaches for ED treatment are reviewed.
What the reader will gain
Gene therapy strategies that can enhance nitric oxide (NO) production or NO-mediated signaling pathways, growth factor-mediated nerve regeneration or K+ channel activity in the smooth muscle could be promising approaches for the treatment of ED. Although the majority of gene therapy studies are still in the preclinical phase, the first clinical trial using non-viral gene transfer of Ca2+-activated, large-conductance K+ channels into the corpus cavernosum of ED patients showed positive results.
Take home message
Gene therapy represents an exciting future treatment option for ED, especially for people with severe ED unresponsive to current first-line therapies such as PDE5 inhibitors although the long-term safety of both viral and non-viral gene therapies should be established.
gene therapy; erectile dysfunction; nitric oxide; growth factor; K+ channel
Pathological alterations of ion channel activity result from changes in modulatory mechanisms governing receptor biology. Here we describe a conditional herpes simplex virus (HSV) replication–based strategy to discover channel modulators whereby inhibition of agonist-induced channel activation by a vector-expressed modulatory gene product prevents ion flux, osmotic shock and cell death. Inhibition of channel activity, in this case, the rat vanilloid (Trpv1) or the glycine receptor (GlyRα1), can allow selection of escape vector plaques containing the ‘captured’ modulatory gene for subsequent identification and functional analysis. We validated this prediction using mixed infections of a wild-type Trpv1 expression vector vTTHR and a nonfunctional ‘poreless’ Trpv1 subunit–expressing vector, vHP, wherein vHP was highly selected from a large background of vTTHR viruses in the presence of the Trpv1 agonist, capsaicin. The approach should be useful for probing large libraries of vector-expressed cDNAs for the presence of ion channel modulators.
Phosphorylation of the vanilloid receptor (TRPV1) by protein kinase C epsilon (PKCε) plays an important role in the development of chronic pain. Here, we employ a highly defective herpes simplex virus vector (vHDNP) that expresses dominant negative PKCε (DNPKCε) as a strategy to demonstrate that PKCε is essential for: (i) maintenance of basal phosphorylation and normal TRPV1 responses to capsaicin (CAPS), a TRPV1 agonist and (ii) enhancement of TRPV1 responses by phorbol esters. Phorbol esters induced translocation of endogenous PKCε to the plasma membrane and thereby enhanced CAPS currents. These results were extended to an in-vivo pain model in which vHDNP delivery to dorsal root ganglion neurons caused analgesia in CAPS-treated, acutely inflamed rat hind paws. These findings support the conclusion that in addition to receptor sensitization, PKCε is essential for normal TRPV1 responses in vitro and in vivo.
capsaicin; desensitization; HSV; modulation; nociception; PKC; TRPV1
Herpes simplex virus (HSV) entry into cells is triggered by the binding of envelope glycoprotein D (gD) to a specific receptor, such as nectin-1 or herpesvirus entry mediator (HVEM), resulting in activation of the fusion effectors gB and gH and virus penetration. Here we report the identification of a hyperactive gB allele, D285N/A549T, selected by repeat passage of a gD mutant virus defective for nectin-1 binding through cells that express a gD-binding-impaired mutant nectin-1. The gB allele in a wild-type virus background enabled the use of other nectins as virus entry receptors. In addition, combination of the mutant allele with an epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-retargeted gD gene yielded dramatically increased EGFR-specific virus entry compared to retargeted virus carrying wild-type gB. Entry of the gB mutant virus into nectin-1-bearing cells was markedly accelerated compared to that of wild-type virus, suggesting that the gB mutations affect a rate-limiting step in entry. Our observations indicate that ineffective gD activation can be complemented by hypersensitization of a downstream component of the entry cascade to gD signaling.
To initiate infection, equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1) attaches to heparan sulfate on cell surfaces and then interacts with a putative glycoprotein D receptor(s). After attachment, virus entry occurs either by direct fusion of the virus envelope with the plasma membrane or via endocytosis followed by fusion between the virus envelope and an endosomal membrane. Upon fusion, de-enveloped virus particles are deposited into the cytoplasm and travel to the nucleus for viral replication. In this report, we examined the mechanism of EHV-1 intracellular trafficking and investigated the ability of EHV-1 to utilize specific cellular components to efficiently travel to the nucleus post-entry. Using a panel of microtubule depolymerizing drugs and inhibitors of microtubule motor proteins, we show that EHV-1 infection is dependent on both the integrity of the microtubule network and the minus-end microtubule motor protein, dynein. In addition, we show that EHV-1 actively induces the acetylation of tubulin, a marker of microtubule stabilization, as early as 15 minutes post-infection. Finally, our data support a role for the cellular kinase, ROCK1, in virus trafficking to the nucleus.
EHV-1; trafficking; microtubules; dynein; ROCK1
Viral vector-based gene expression libraries from normal or diseased tissues offer opportunities to interrogate cellular functions that influence or participate directly in specific biological processes. Here we report the creation and characterization of a herpes simplex virus (HSV)-based expression library consisting of cDNAs derived from PC12 pheochromocytoma cells. A replication-defective HSV vector backbone was engineered to contain both a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) and the Invitrogen in vitro Gateway recombination system, creating DBAC-GW. A cDNA library was produced and transferred into the DBAC-GW genome by in vitro recombination and selection in bacteria to produce DBAC-L. DBAC-L contained at least 15,000 unique cDNAs, as shown by DNA array analysis of PCR-amplified cDNA inserts, representing a wide range of cancer- and neuron-related cellular functions. Transfection of the recombinant DBAC-L DNA into complementing animal cells produced more than 1 million DBAC-L virus particles representing the library genes. By microarray analysis of vector-infected cells, we observed that individual members of this vector population expressed unique PC12 cDNA-derived mRNA, demonstrating the power of this system to transfer and express a variety of gene activities. We discuss the potential utility of this and similarly derived expression libraries for genome-wide approaches to identify cellular functions that participate in complex host-pathogen interactions or processes related to disease and to cell growth and development.