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1.  The BET family of proteins targets Moloney Murine Leukemia Virus integration near transcription start sites 
Cell reports  2013;5(4):886-894.
A hallmark of retroviral replication is integration of the viral genome in the host cell DNA. This characteristic makes retrovirus-based vectors attractive delivery vehicles for gene therapy. However, adverse events in gene therapeutic trials, caused by activation of proto-oncogenes due to Murine Leukemia Virus (MLV)-derived vector integration, hamper their application. Here we show that bromodomain and extraterminal (BET) proteins (BRD2, BRD3 and BRD4) and MLV integrase specifically interact and co-localize within the nucleus of the cell. Inhibition of the BET proteins chromatin interaction via specific bromodomain inhibitors blocks MLV virus replication at the integration step. MLV integration site distribution parallels the chromatin binding profile of BET proteins, and expression of an artificial fusion protein of the BET integrase binding domain with the chromatin interaction domain of the lentiviral targeting factor LEDGF/p75, retargets MLV integration away from TSS and into the body of actively transcribed genes, conform to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) integration pattern. Together these data validate BET proteins as MLV integration targeting factors.
PMCID: PMC4197836  PMID: 24183673
2.  4-Substituted 2-Hydroxyisoquinoline-1,3(2H,4H)-diones as a Novel Class of HIV-1 Integrase Inhibitors 
ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters  2013;4(7):606-611.
A series of 2-hydroxy-1,3-dioxoisoquinoline-4-carboxamides featuring an N-hydroxyimide chelating functionality was evaluated for their inhibitory properties against human immunodeficiency virus type 1 integrase (HIV-1 IN). Several derivatives displayed low nanomolar IC50 values comparable to that of the clinically used raltegravir. A marked effect of one compound on both primary IN-catalyzed reactions, strand transfer (ST), and 3′ processing (3′-P), emphasizes a novel IN inhibition mechanism establishing it as a potential new generation IN inhibitor. Substitution of the 2-hydroxyisoquinoline-1,3-dione scaffold at position 4 by carboxamido chains was beneficial for antiviral activity since reproducible low micromolar anti-HIV activities were obtained for the first time within this scaffold.
PMCID: PMC4027527  PMID: 24900718
HIV; antiretroviral; integrase; 3′ processing; 2-hydroxy-1,3-dioxoisoquinoline-4-carboxamide
3.  BET-independent MLV-based Vectors Target Away From Promoters and Regulatory Elements 
Stable integration in the host genome renders murine leukemia virus (MLV)-derived vectors attractive tools for gene therapy. Adverse events in otherwise successful clinical trials caused by proto-oncogene activation due to vector integration hamper their application. MLV and MLV-based vectors integrate near strong enhancers, active promoters, and transcription start sites (TSS) through specific interaction of MLV integrase (IN) with the bromodomain and extra-terminal (BET) family of proteins, accounting for insertional mutagenesis. We identified a BET-interaction motif in the C-terminal tail of MLV IN conserved among gammaretroviruses. By deletion of this motif or a single point mutation (INW390A), BET-independent MLV (BinMLV) were engineered. BinMLV vectors carrying INW390A integrate at wild-type efficiency, with an integration profile that no longer correlates with BET chromatin distribution nor with the traditional markers of MLV integration. In particular, BinMLV vector integration associated less with oncogene TSS compared to the MLV vectors currently used in clinical trials. Together, these findings open perspectives to increase the biosafety of gammaretroviral vectors for gene therapy.
PMCID: PMC4121521  PMID: 25072693
4.  Optimization of Multimodal Imaging of Mesenchymal Stem Cells Using the Human Sodium Iodide Symporter for PET and Cerenkov Luminescence Imaging 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94833.
The use of stably integrated reporter gene imaging provides a manner to monitor the in vivo fate of engrafted cells over time in a non-invasive manner. Here, we optimized multimodal imaging (small-animal PET, Cerenkov luminescence imaging (CLI) and bioluminescence imaging (BLI)) of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), by means of the human sodium iodide symporter (hNIS) and firefly luciferase (Fluc) as reporters.
First, two multicistronic lentiviral vectors (LV) were generated for multimodal imaging: BLI, 124I PET/SPECT and CLI. Expression of the imaging reporter genes was validated in vitro using 99mTcO4− radioligand uptake experiments and BLI. Uptake kinetics, specificity and tracer elution were determined as well as the effect of the transduction process on the cell's differentiation capacity. MSCs expressing the LV were injected intravenously or subcutaneously and imaged using small-animal PET, CLI and BLI.
The expression of both imaging reporter genes was functional and specific. An elution of 99mTcO4− from the cells was observed, with 31% retention after 3 h. After labeling cells with 124I in vitro, a significantly higher CLI signal was noted in hNIS expressing murine MSCs. Furthermore, it was possible to visualize cells injected intravenously using BLI or subcutaneously in mice, using 124I small-animal PET, CLI and BLI.
This study identifies hNIS as a suitable reporter gene for molecular imaging with PET and CLI, as confirmed with BLI through the expression of Fluc. It supports the potential for a wider application of hNIS reporter gene imaging and future clinical applications.
PMCID: PMC3991630  PMID: 24747914
5.  Design of a novel cyclotide-based CXCR4 antagonist with anti-human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 activity 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2012;55(23):10729-10734.
Herein, we report for the first time the design and synthesis of a novel cyclotide able to efficiently inhibit HIV-1 viral replication by selectively targeting cytokine receptor CXCR4. This was accomplished by grafting a series of topologically modified CVX15 based peptides onto the loop 6 of cyclotide MCoTI-I. The most active compound produced in this study was a potent CXCR4 antagonist (EC50 ≈ 20 nM) and an efficient HIV-1 cell-entry blocker (EC50 ≈ 2 nM). This cyclotide also showed high stability in human serum thereby providing a promising lead compound for the design of a novel type of peptide-based anti-cancer and anti-HIV-1 therapeutics.
PMCID: PMC3521869  PMID: 23151033
10.  LEDGINs inhibit late stage HIV-1 replication by modulating integrase multimerization in the virions 
Retrovirology  2013;10:57.
LEDGINs are novel allosteric HIV integrase (IN) inhibitors that target the lens epithelium-derived growth factor (LEDGF)/p75 binding pocket of IN. They block HIV-1 integration by abrogating the interaction between LEDGF/p75 and IN as well as by allosterically inhibiting the catalytic activity of IN.
Here we demonstrate that LEDGINs reduce the replication capacity of HIV particles produced in their presence. We systematically studied the molecular basis of this late effect of LEDGINs and demonstrate that HIV virions produced in their presence display a severe replication defect. Both the late effect and the previously described, early effect on integration contribute to LEDGIN antiviral activity as shown by time-of-addition, qPCR and infectivity assays. The late effect phenotype requires binding of LEDGINs to integrase without influencing proteolytic cleavage or production of viral particles. LEDGINs augment IN multimerization during virion assembly or in the released viral particles and severely hamper the infectivity of progeny virions. About 70% of the particles produced in LEDGIN-treated cells do not form a core or display aberrant empty cores with a mislocalized electron-dense ribonucleoprotein. The LEDGIN-treated virus displays defective reverse transcription and nuclear import steps in the target cells. The LEDGIN effect is possibly exerted at the level of the Pol precursor polyprotein.
Our results suggest that LEDGINs modulate IN multimerization in progeny virions and impair the formation of regular cores during the maturation step, resulting in a decreased infectivity of the viral particles in the target cells. LEDGINs thus profile as unique antivirals with combined early (integration) and late (IN assembly) effects on the HIV replication cycle.
PMCID: PMC3671127  PMID: 23721378
Antivirals; HIV replication; Integrase; Integrase multimerization; LEDGINs
11.  The Stress Oncoprotein LEDGF/p75 Interacts with the Methyl CpG Binding Protein MeCP2 and Influences its Transcriptional Activity 
Molecular Cancer Research  2012;10(3):378-391.
The lens epithelium derived growth factor p75 (LEDGF/p75) is a transcription co-activator that promotes resistance to oxidative stress- and chemotherapy-induced cell death. LEDGF/p75 is also known as the dense fine speckles autoantigen of 70 kD (DFS70), and has been implicated in cancer, HIV-AIDS, autoimmunity, and inflammation. To gain insights into mechanisms by which LEDGF/p75 protects cancer cells against stress, we initiated an analysis of its interactions with other transcription factors and the influence of these interactions on stress gene activation. We report here that both LEDGF/p75 and its short splice variant LEDGF/p52 interact with MeCP2, a methylation-associated transcriptional modulator, in vitro and in various human cancer cells. These interactions were established by several complementary approaches: transcription factor protein arrays, pull down and AlphaScreen® assays, co-immunoprecipitation, and nuclear co-localization by confocal microscopy. MeCP2 was found to interact with the N-terminal region shared by LEDGF/p75 and p52, particularly with the PWWP-CR1 domain. Like LEDGF/p75, MeCP2 bound to and transactivated the Hsp27 promoter (Hsp27pr). LEDGF/p75 modestly enhanced MeCP2-induced Hsp27pr transactivation in U2OS cells, while this effect was more pronounced in PC3 cells. LEDGF/p52 repressed Hsp27pr activity in U2OS cells. Interestingly, siRNA-induced silencing of LEDGF/p75 in U2OS cells dramatically elevated MeCP2-mediated Hsp27pr transactivation, whereas this effect was less pronounced in PC3 cells depleted of LEDGF/p75. These results suggest that the LEDGF/p75-MeCP2 interaction differentially influences Hsp27pr activation depending on the cellular and molecular context. These findings are of significance in understanding the contribution of this interaction to the activation of stress survival genes.
PMCID: PMC3312617  PMID: 22275515
LEDGF/p75; MeCP2; protein-protein interactions; PWWP domain; transcription
12.  Transient Expression of an LEDGF/p75 Chimera Retargets Lentivector Integration and Functionally Rescues in a Model for X-CGD 
Retrovirus-based vectors are commonly used as delivery vehicles to correct genetic diseases because of their ability to integrate new sequences stably. However, adverse events in which vector integration activates proto-oncogenes, leading to clonal expansion and leukemogenesis hamper their application. The host cell-encoded lens epithelium-derived growth factor (LEDGF/p75) binds lentiviral integrase and targets integration to active transcription units. We demonstrated earlier that replacing the LEDGF/p75 chromatin interaction domain with an alternative DNA-binding protein could retarget integration. Here, we show that transient expression of the chimeric protein using mRNA electroporation efficiently redirects lentiviral vector (LV) integration in wild-type (WT) cells. We then employed this technology in a model for X-linked chronic granulomatous disease (X-CGD) using myelomonocytic PLB-985 gp91−/− cells. Following electroporation with mRNA encoding the LEDGF-chimera, the cells were treated with a therapeutic lentivector encoding gp91phox. Integration site analysis revealed retargeted integration away from genes and towards heterochromatin-binding protein 1β (CBX1)-binding sites, in regions enriched in marks associated with gene silencing. Nevertheless, gp91phox expression was stable for at least 6 months after electroporation and NADPH-oxidase activity was restored to normal levels as determined by superoxide production. Together, these data provide proof-of-principle that transient expression of engineered LEDGF-chimera can retarget lentivector integration and rescues the disease phenotype in a cell model, opening perspectives for safer gene therapy.
PMCID: PMC3615818  PMID: 23462964
gene therapy; LEDGF/p75; lentiviral vector; retargeted integration
13.  Small-Molecule Inhibitors of the LEDGF/p75 Binding Site of Integrase Block HIV Replication and Modulate Integrase Multimerization 
Targeting the HIV integrase (HIV IN) is a clinically validated approach for designing novel anti-HIV therapies. We have previously described the discovery of a novel class of integration inhibitors, 2-(quinolin-3-yl)acetic acid derivatives, blocking HIV replication at a low micromolar concentration through binding in the LEDGF/p75 binding pocket of HIV integrase, hence referred to as LEDGINs. Here we report the detailed characterization of their mode of action. The design of novel and more potent analogues with nanomolar activity enabled full virological evaluation and a profound mechanistic study. As allosteric inhibitors, LEDGINs bind to the LEDGF/p75 binding pocket in integrase, thereby blocking the interaction with LEDGF/p75 and interfering indirectly with the catalytic activity of integrase. Detailed mechanism-of-action studies reveal that the allosteric mode of inhibition is likely caused by an effect on HIV-1 integrase oligomerization. The multimodal inhibition by LEDGINs results in a block in HIV integration and in a replication deficiency of progeny virus. The allosteric nature of LEDGINs leads to synergy in combination with the clinically approved active site HIV IN strand transfer inhibitor (INSTI) raltegravir, and cross-resistance profiling proves the distinct mode of action of LEDGINs and INSTIs. The allosteric nature of inhibition and compatibility with INSTIs underline an interest in further (clinical) development of LEDGINs.
PMCID: PMC3421592  PMID: 22664975
14.  HRP-2 determines HIV-1 integration site selection in LEDGF/p75 depleted cells 
Retrovirology  2012;9:84.
Lens epithelium–derived growth factor (LEDGF/p75) is a cellular co-factor of HIV-1 integrase (IN) that tethers the viral pre-integration complex to the host cell chromatin and determines the genome wide integration site distribution pattern of HIV-1. Recently, we demonstrated that HIV-1 replication was reduced in LEDGF/p75 knockout (KO) cells. LEDGF/p75 KO significantly altered the integration site preference of HIV-1, but the pattern remained distinct from a computationally generated matched random control set (MRC), suggesting the presence of an alternative tethering factor. We previously identified Hepatoma-derived growth factor related protein 2 (HRP-2) as a factor mediating LEDGF/p75-independent HIV-1 replication. However, the role of HRP-2 in HIV-1 integration site selection was not addressed.
We studied the HIV-1 integration site distribution in the presence and absence of LEDGF/p75 and/or HRP-2, and in LEDGF/p75-depleted cells that overexpress HRP-2. We show that HRP-2 functions as a co-factor of HIV-1 IN in LEDGF/p75-depleted cells. Endogenous HRP-2 only weakly supported HIV-1 replication in LEDGF/p75 depleted cells. However, HRP-2 overexpression rescued HIV-1 replication and restored integration in RefSeq genes to wild-type levels. Additional HRP-2 KD in LEDGF/p75-depleted cells reduces integration frequency in transcription units and shifts the integration distribution towards random.
We demonstrate that HRP-2 overexpression can compensate for the absence of LEDGF/p75 and indicate that the residual bias in integration targeting observed in the absence of LEDGF/p75 can be ascribed to HRP-2. Knockdown of HRP-2 upon LEDGF/p75 depletion results in a more random HIV-1 integration pattern. These data therefore reinforce the understanding that LEDGF/p75 is the dominant HIV-1 IN co-factor.
PMCID: PMC3485173  PMID: 23046603
LEDGF/p75; HRP-2; HIV-1; Targeting; Integration site analysis
15.  A Symmetric Region of the HIV-1 Integrase Dimerization Interface Is Essential for Viral Replication 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45177.
HIV-1 integrase (IN) is an important target for contemporary antiretroviral drug design research. Historically, efforts at inactivating the enzyme have focused upon blocking its active site. However, it has become apparent that new classes of allosteric inhibitors will be necessary to advance the antiretroviral field in light of the emergence of viral strains resistant to contemporary clinically used IN drugs. In this study we have characterized the importance of a close network of IN residues, distant from the active site, as important for the obligatory multimerization of the enzyme and viral replication as a whole. Specifically, we have determined that the configuration of six residues within a highly symmetrical region at the IN dimerization interface, composed of a four-tiered aromatic interaction flanked by two salt bridges, significantly contributes to proper HIV-1 replication. Additionally, we have utilized a quantitative luminescence assay to examine IN oligomerization and have determined that there is a very low tolerance for amino acid substitutions along this region. Even conservative residue substitutions negatively impacted IN multimerization, resulting in an inactive viral enzyme and a non-replicative virus. We have shown that there is a very low tolerance for amino acid variation at the symmetrical dimeric interface region characterized in this study, and therefore drugs designed to target the amino acid network detailed here could be expected to yield a significantly reduced number of drug-resistant escape mutations compared to contemporary clinically-evaluated antiretrovirals.
PMCID: PMC3445459  PMID: 23028829
16.  Association of Polymorphisms in the LEDGF/p75 Gene (PSIP1) with Susceptibility to HIV-1 Infection and Disease Progression 
AIDS (London, England)  2011;25(14):1711-1719.
LEDGF/p75, encoded by the PSIP1 gene, interacts with HIV-1 integrase and targets HIV-1 integration into active genes. We investigated the influence of polymorphisms in PSIP1 on HIV-1 acquisition and disease progression in black South Africans.
Integrase binding domain (IBD) of LEDGF/p75 was sequenced in 126 participants. Four haplotype tagging SNPs, SNP1-SNP4 and one exonic SNP, SNP5 were genotyped in 195 HIV-1 seronegative, 52 primary and 403 chronically infected individuals using TaqMan assays. LEDGF/p75 expression was quantified by real-time RT-PCR. The impact of Q472L mutation on the interaction with HIV-1 IN was measured by AlphaScreen.
rs2277191A was more frequent among seropositives (p=0.06, Fisher's exact test), and among individuals followed longitudinally trended towards association with higher likelihood of HIV-1 acquisition (RH=2.21, p=0.08; Cox model) and it was also associated with rapid disease progression (RH=5.98, p=0.04; Cox model). rs12339417C was associated with slower decline of CD4+ T cell (p=0.02) and lower levels of LEDGF/p75 (p<0.01). Seroconverters had higher preinfection levels of LEDGF/p75 (p<0.01) but levels decreased after HIV infection (p=0.02).
Genetic variants of PSIP1 may affect HIV-1 outcomes. Further studies are needed to confirm the effect of genetic variation of PSIP1 on HIV-1 pathogenesis in different cohorts.
PMCID: PMC3233670  PMID: 21681054
17.  Cellular Cofactors of Lentiviral Integrase: From Target Validation to Drug Discovery 
To accomplish their life cycle, lentiviruses make use of host proteins, the so-called cellular cofactors. Interactions between host cell and viral proteins during early stages of lentiviral infection provide attractive new antiviral targets. The insertion of lentiviral cDNA in a host cell chromosome is a step of no return in the replication cycle, after which the host cell becomes a permanent carrier of the viral genome and a producer of lentiviral progeny. Integration is carried out by integrase (IN), an enzyme playing also an important role during nuclear import. Plenty of cellular cofactors of HIV-1 IN have been proposed. To date, the lens epithelium-derived growth factor (LEDGF/p75) is the best studied cofactor of HIV-1 IN. Moreover, small molecules that block the LEDGF/p75-IN interaction have recently been developed for the treatment of HIV infection. The nuclear import factor transportin-SR2 (TRN-SR2) has been proposed as another interactor of HIV IN-mediating nuclear import of the virus. Using both proteins as examples, we will describe approaches to be taken to identify and validate novel cofactors as new antiviral targets. Finally, we will highlight recent advances in the design and the development of small-molecule inhibitors binding to the LEDGF/p75-binding pocket in IN (LEDGINs).
PMCID: PMC3420096  PMID: 22928108
18.  Bioluminescence imaging of therapy response does not correlate with FDG-PET response in a mouse model of Burkitt lymphoma 
Since the development and evaluation of novel anti-cancer therapies require molecular insight in the disease state, both FDG-PET and BLI imaging were evaluated in a Burkitt B-cell lymphoma xenograft model treated with cyclophosphamide or temsirolimus. Daudi xenograft mice were treated with either cyclophosphamide or temsirolimus and imaged with BLI and FDG-PET on d0 (before treatment), d2, d4, d7, d9 and d14 following the start of therapy. Besides tumor volume changes, therapy response was assessed with immunohistochemical analysis (apoptosis). BLI revealed a flare following both therapeutics that was significantly higher when compared to control tumors. FDG-PET decreased immediatelly, long before the tumor reduced in size. Late after therapy, BLI signal intensities decreased significantly compared to baseline subsequent to tumor size reduction while apoptosis was immediately induced following both treatment regimen. Unlike FDG, BLI was not able to reflect reduced levels of viable cells and was not able to predict tumor size response and apoptosis response.
PMCID: PMC3477743  PMID: 23133822
Bioluminescence imaging; therapy response; FDG-PET
19.  Pathway Specific Gene Expression Profiling Reveals Oxidative Stress Genes Potentially Regulated by Transcription Co-Activator LEDGF/p75 in Prostate Cancer Cells 
The Prostate  2011;72(6):597-611.
Lens epithelium-derived growth factor p75 (LEDGF/p75) is a stress survival transcription co-activator and autoantigen that is overexpressed in tumors, including prostate cancer (PCa). This oncoprotein promotes resistance to cell death induced by oxidative stress and chemotherapy by mechanisms that remain unclear. To get insights into these mechanisms we identified candidate target stress genes of LEDGF/p75 using pathway-specific gene expression profiling in PCa cells.
A “Human oxidative stress and antioxidant defense” qPCR array was used to identify genes exhibiting significant expression changes in response to knockdown or overexpression of LEDGF/p75 in PC-3 cells. Validation of array results was performed by additional qPCR and immunoblotting.
Cytoglobin (CYGB), Phosphoinositide-binding protein PIP3-E/IPCEF-1, superoxidase dismutase 3 (SOD3), thyroid peroxidase (TPO), and albumin (ALB) exhibited significant transcript down- and up-regulation in response to LEDGF/p75 knockdown and overexpression, respectively. CYGB gene was selected for further validation based on its emerging role as a stress oncoprotein in human malignancies. In light of previous reports indicating that LEDGF/p75 regulates peroxiredoxin 6 (PRDX6), and that PRDXs exhibit differential expression in PCa, we also examined the relationship between these proteins in PCa cells. Our validation data revealed that changes in LEDGF/p75 transcript and protein expression in PCa cells closely paralleled those of CYGB, but not those of the PRDXs.
Our study identifies CYGB and other genes as stress genes potentially regulated by LEDGF/p75 in PCa cells, and provides a rationale for investigating their role in PCa and in promoting resistance to chemotherapy- and oxidative stress-induced cell death.
PMCID: PMC3227744  PMID: 21796653
LEDGF/p75; prostate cancer; oxidative stress; gene profiling; peroxiredoxin; cytoglobin
20.  LEDGF/p75-Independent HIV-1 Replication Demonstrates a Role for HRP-2 and Remains Sensitive to Inhibition by LEDGINs 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(3):e1002558.
Lens epithelium–derived growth factor (LEDGF/p75) is a cellular cofactor of HIV-1 integrase (IN) that interacts with IN through its IN binding domain (IBD) and tethers the viral pre-integration complex to the host cell chromatin. Here we report the generation of a human somatic LEDGF/p75 knockout cell line that allows the study of spreading HIV-1 infection in the absence of LEDGF/p75. By homologous recombination the exons encoding the LEDGF/p75 IBD (exons 11 to 14) were knocked out. In the absence of LEDGF/p75 replication of laboratory HIV-1 strains was severely delayed while clinical HIV-1 isolates were replication-defective. The residual replication was predominantly mediated by the Hepatoma-derived growth factor related protein 2 (HRP-2), the only cellular protein besides LEDGF/p75 that contains an IBD. Importantly, the recently described IN-LEDGF/p75 inhibitors (LEDGINs) remained active even in the absence of LEDGF/p75 by blocking the interaction with the IBD of HRP-2. These results further support the potential of LEDGINs as allosteric integrase inhibitors.
Author Summary
Like other viruses, HIV has a limited genome and needs to exploit the machinery of the host cell to complete its replication cycle. The elucidation of virus-host interactions not only sheds light on pathogenesis but also provides opportunities in a limited number of cases to develop novel antiviral drugs. A prototypical example is the interaction between the cellular protein LEDGF/p75 and HIV-1 integrase (IN). Here we generated a human somatic LEDGF/p75 knockout cell line to demonstrate that HIV-1 replication is highly dependent on its cofactor. We show that the residual replication of laboratory strains is predominantly mediated by a LEDGF/p75-related protein, HRP-2. Interestingly, the recently developed HIV-1 IN inhibitors that target the LEDGF/p75-IN interaction interface, LEDGINs, remain active even in the absence of LEDGF/p75. We demonstrate that LEDGINs efficiently block the interaction between IN and HRP-2. In case HIV-1 would be able to bypass LEDGF/p75-dependent replication using HRP-2 as an alternative tether, LEDGINs would remain fully active.
PMCID: PMC3291655  PMID: 22396646
21.  miR669a and miR669q prevent skeletal muscle differentiation in postnatal cardiac progenitors 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2011;193(7):1197-1212.
miR669a and miR669q inhibit postnatal cardiac progenitor differentiation by directly targeting the 3′UTR of MyoD.
Postnatal heart stem and progenitor cells are a potential therapeutic tool for cardiomyopathies, but little is known about the mechanisms that control cardiac differentiation. Recent work has highlighted an important role for microribonucleic acids (miRNAs) as regulators of cardiac and skeletal myogenesis. In this paper, we isolated cardiac progenitors from neonatal β-sarcoglycan (Sgcb)–null mouse hearts affected by dilated cardiomyopathy. Unexpectedly, Sgcb-null cardiac progenitors spontaneously differentiated into skeletal muscle fibers both in vitro and when transplanted into regenerating muscles or infarcted hearts. Differentiation potential correlated with the absence of expression of a novel miRNA, miR669q, and with down-regulation of miR669a. Other miRNAs are known to promote myogenesis, but only miR669a and miR669q act upstream of myogenic regulatory factors to prevent myogenesis by directly targeting the MyoD 3′ untranslated region. This finding reveals an added level of complexity in the mechanism of the fate choice of mesoderm progenitors and suggests that using endogenous cardiac stem cells therapeutically will require specially tailored procedures for certain genetic diseases.
PMCID: PMC3216340  PMID: 21708977
22.  Rapid, Simple, and Versatile Manufacturing of Recombinant Adeno-Associated Viral Vectors at Scale 
Human Gene Therapy  2010;21(10):1259-1271.
Lock et al. describe a scaled recombinant AAV production method suitable for large animal studies; this method is based upon polyethylenimine transfection and supernatant harvest. According to the authors, the method is high-yielding, versatile for the production of vectors with different serotypes and transgenes and simple enough that it may be performed in most laboratories with a minimum of specialized techniques and equipment.
Adeno-associated viral (AAV) manufacturing at scale continues to hinder the application of AAV technology to gene therapy studies. Although scalable systems based on AAV–adenovirus, AAV–herpesvirus, and AAV–baculovirus hybrids hold promise for clinical applications, they require time-consuming generation of reagents and are not highly suited to intermediate-scale preclinical studies in large animals, in which several combinations of serotype and genome may need to be tested. We observed that during production of many AAV serotypes, large amounts of vector are found in the culture supernatant, a relatively pure source of vector in comparison with cell-derived material. Here we describe a high-yielding, recombinant AAV production process based on polyethylenimine (PEI)-mediated transfection of HEK293 cells and iodixanol gradient centrifugation of concentrated culture supernatant. The entire process can be completed in 1 week and the steps involved are universal for a number of different AAV serotypes. Process conditions have been optimized such that final purified yields are routinely greater than 1 × 1014 genome copies per run, with capsid protein purity exceeding 90%. Initial experiments with vectors produced by the new process demonstrate equivalent or better transduction both in vitro and in vivo when compared with small-scale, CsCl gradient-purified vectors. In addition, the iodixanol gradient purification process described effectively separates infectious particles from empty capsids, a desirable property for reducing toxicity and unwanted immune responses during preclinical studies.
PMCID: PMC2957274  PMID: 20497038
23.  Interplay between HIV Entry and Transportin-SR2 Dependency 
Retrovirology  2011;8:7.
Transportin-SR2 (TRN-SR2, TNPO3, transportin 3) was previously identified as an interaction partner of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) integrase and functions as a nuclear import factor of HIV-1. A possible role of capsid in transportin-SR2-mediated nuclear import was recently suggested by the findings that a chimeric HIV virus, carrying the murine leukemia virus (MLV) capsid and matrix proteins, displayed a transportin-SR2 independent phenotype, and that the HIV-1 N74D capsid mutant proved insensitive to transportin-SR2 knockdown.
Our present analysis of viral specificity reveals that TRN-SR2 is not used to the same extent by all lentiviruses. The DNA flap does not determine the TRN-SR2 requirement of HIV-1. We corroborate the TRN-SR2 independent phenotype of the chimeric HIV virus carrying the MLV capsid and matrix proteins. We reanalyzed the HIV-1 N74D capsid mutant in cells transiently or stably depleted of transportin-SR2 and confirm that the N74D capsid mutant is independent of TRN-SR2 when pseudotyped with the vesicular stomatitis virus glycoprotein (VSV-G). Remarkably, although somewhat less dependent on TRN-SR2 than wild type virus, the N74D capsid mutant carrying the wild type HIV-1 envelope required TRN-SR2 for efficient replication. By pseudotyping with envelopes that mediate pH-independent viral uptake including HIV-1, measles virus and amphotropic MLV envelopes, we demonstrate that HIV-1 N74D capsid mutant viruses retain partial dependency on TRN-SR2. However, this dependency on TRN-SR2 is lost when the HIV N74D capsid mutant is pseudotyped with envelopes mediating pH-dependent endocytosis, such as the VSV-G and Ebola virus envelopes.
Here we discover a link between the viral entry of HIV and its interaction with TRN-SR2. Our data confirm the importance of TRN-SR2 in HIV-1 replication and argue for careful interpretation of experiments performed with VSV-G pseudotyped viruses in studies on early steps of HIV replication including the role of capsid therein.
PMCID: PMC3041740  PMID: 21276267
24.  The transcriptional co-activator LEDGF/p75 displays a dynamic scan-and-lock mechanism for chromatin tethering 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;39(4):1310-1325.
Nearly all cellular and disease related functions of the transcriptional co-activator lens epithelium-derived growth factor (LEDGF/p75) involve tethering of interaction partners to chromatin via its conserved integrase binding domain (IBD), but little is known about the mechanism of in vivo chromatin binding and tethering. In this work we studied LEDGF/p75 in real-time in living HeLa cells combining different quantitative fluorescence techniques: spot fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (sFRAP) and half-nucleus fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (hnFRAP), continuous photobleaching, fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) and an improved FCS method to study diffusion dependence of chromatin binding, tunable focus FCS. LEDGF/p75 moves about in nuclei of living cells in a chromatin hopping/scanning mode typical for transcription factors. The PWWP domain of LEDGF/p75 is necessary, but not sufficient for in vivo chromatin binding. After interaction with HIV-1 integrase via its IBD, a general protein–protein interaction motif, kinetics of LEDGF/p75 shift to 75-fold larger affinity for chromatin. The PWWP is crucial for locking the complex on chromatin. We propose a scan-and-lock model for LEDGF/p75, unifying paradoxical notions of transcriptional co-activation and lentiviral integration targeting.
PMCID: PMC3045605  PMID: 20974633
25.  Naturally occurring singleton residues in AAV capsid impact vector performance and illustrate structural constraints 
Gene therapy  2009;16(12):1416-1428.
Vectors based on the adeno-associated virus are attractive and versatile vehicles for in vivo gene transfer. The virus capsid is the primary interface with the cell that defines many pharmacological, immunological and molecular properties. Determinants of these interactions are often restricted to a limited number of capsid amino acids. In this study, a portfolio of novel AAV vectors was developed following a structure-function analysis of naturally occurring AAV capsid isolates. Singletons, which are particular residues on the AAV capsid that were variable in otherwise conserved amino acid positions were found to impact on vector's ability to be manufactured or to transduce. Data for those residues that mapped to monomer-monomer interface regions on the particle structure suggested a role in particle assembly. The change of singleton residues to the conserved amino acid resulted in the rescue of many isolates that were defective upon initial isolation. This led to the development of an AAV vector portfolio that encompasses 6 different clades and 3 other distinct AAV niches. Evaluation of the in vivo gene transfer efficiency of this portfolio following intravenous and intramuscular administration highlighted a clade-specific tropism. These studies further the design and selection of AAV capsids for gene therapy applications.
PMCID: PMC2795093  PMID: 19727141
gene transfer; gene therapy; adeno-associated viruses; AAV; vector; capsid; muscle; liver

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