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- Optimization and antiviral analysis of peptide ligands for the HIV-1 packaging signal PSI (2006)
- Oral presentations Background: We selected peptide ligands for the HIV-1 packaging signal PSI by screening phage displayed peptide libraries. Peptide ligands were optimized by screening spot synthesis peptide membranes. The aim of this study is the functional characterization of these peptide ligands with respect to inhibition of HIV-1 replication. Methods: Phage displayed peptide libraries were screened with PSI-RNA structures. The Trp-rich peptide motifs were optimized for specific binding on spot synthesis peptide membranes. The best binding peptide was expressed intracellularly in fusion with RFP or linked to a protein transduction domain (PTD) for intracellular delivery. The effects on virion production were analyzed using pseudotyped lentiviral particles. Results: After positive and negative selection rounds, phages binding specifically to PSI-RNA were identified by ELISA. Peptide inserts contained conserved motifs of aromatic amino acids known to be implicated in binding of PSI-RNA by the natural Gag ligand. The filter assay identified HKWPWW as the best binding ligand for PSI-RNA, which is delivered into several cell lines by addition of a PTD. Compared to a control peptide, the HKWPWW peptide inhibited HIV-1 replication as deduced from reduced titers of culture supernatants. As HKWPWW also binds to the TAR-RNA like the natural nucleocapsid PSI-RNA ligand, the effect on Tat-TAR inhibition will also be analyzed. Currently T-cell lines are established which stably express HKWPWW as well as a control peptide, which will be infected with HIV-1 to monitor the ability of HKWPWW to inhibit wild type HIV-1 replication. Conclusion: The selection of a peptide ligand for PSI-RNA able to inhibit HIV-1 replication proves the suitability of the phage display technology for the selection of peptides binding to RNA-structures. This enables the indentification of peptides serving as leads to interfere with additional targets in the HIV-1 replication cycle.
- Post-transcriptional regulation of 5-lipoxygenase mRNA expression via alternative splicing and nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (2012)
- 5-Lipoxygenase (5-LO) catalyzes the two initial steps in the biosynthesis of leukotrienes (LT), a group of inflammatory lipid mediators derived from arachidonic acid. Here, we investigated the regulation of 5-LO mRNA expression by alternative splicing and nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD). In the present study, we report the identification of 2 truncated transcripts and 4 novel 5-LO splice variants containing premature termination codons (PTC). The characterization of one of the splice variants, 5-LOΔ3, revealed that it is a target for NMD since knockdown of the NMD factors UPF1, UPF2 and UPF3b in the human monocytic cell line Mono Mac 6 (MM6) altered the expression of 5-LOΔ3 mRNA up to 2-fold in a cell differentiation-dependent manner suggesting that cell differentiation alters the composition or function of the NMD complex. In contrast, the mature 5-LO mRNA transcript was not affected by UPF knockdown. Thus, the data suggest that the coupling of alternative splicing and NMD is involved in the regulation of 5-LO gene expression.
- Trichostatin A induces 5-lipoxygenase promoter activity and mRNA expression via inhibition of histone deacetylase 2 and 3 (2012)
- The 5-lipoxygenase (5-LO) is the key enzyme in the formation of leukotrienes. We have previously shown that the histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor trichostatin A (TSA) activates 5-LO transcription via recruitment of Sp1, Sp3 and RNA polymerase II to the proximal promoter. To identify the HDACs involved in the regulation of 5-LO promoter activity isoform-specific HDAC inhibitors were applied. 5-LO promoter activity and mRNA expression were up-regulated by the class I HDAC inhibitors apicidin and MS-275 but not by class II inhibitors. Knockdown of HDAC 1, 2 and 3 revealed that HDAC2 and HDAC3 but not HDAC1 is involved in the up-regulation of 5-LO mRNA expression. To analyse the chromatin modifications at the 5-LO promoter associated with HDAC inhibition, the time course of 5-LO mRNA induction by trichostatin A was investigated and the concomitant changes in histone modifications at the 5-LO promoter in HL-60, U937 and Mono Mac6 cells were determined. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis revealed that trichostatin A increases acetylation of histones H3 and H4 at the 5-LO core promoter in HL-60 and U937 cells whereas no significant changes were observed in Mono Mac6 cells. The appearance of H3 and H4 acetylation preceded the 5-LO mRNA induction whereas in all three cell lines, induction of 5-LO mRNA expression correlated with histone H3 lysine 4 trimethylation (H3K4me3), a marker for transcriptional activity of gene promoters.
- Gene therapy on the move (2013)
- he first gene therapy clinical trials were initiated more than two decades ago. In the early days, gene therapy shared the fate of many experimental medicine approaches and was impeded by the occurrence of severe side effects in a few treated patients. The understanding of the molecular and cellular mechanisms leading to treatment- and/or vector-associated setbacks has resulted in the development of highly sophisticated gene transfer tools with improved safety and therapeutic efficacy. Employing these advanced tools, a series of Phase I/II trials were started in the past few years with excellent clinical results and no side effects reported so far. Moreover, highly efficient gene targeting strategies and site-directed gene editing technologies have been developed and applied clinically. With more than 1900 clinical trials to date, gene therapy has moved from a vision to clinical reality. This review focuses on the application of gene therapy for the correction of inherited diseases, the limitations and drawbacks encountered in some of the early clinical trials and the revival of gene therapy as a powerful treatment option for the correction of monogenic disorders.
- ErbB2/HER2-specific NK cells for adoptive cancer immunotherapy (2013)
- Poster presentation: 28th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) Significant progress has been made over the last decade towards realizing the potential of natural killer (NK) cells for cancer immunotherapy. NK cells can respond rapidly to transformed and stressed cells, and have the intrinsic potential to extravasate and reach their targets in almost all body tissues. In addition to donor-derived primary NK cells, also continuously expanding cytotoxic cell lines such as NK-92 are being considered for adoptive cancer immunotherapy. High cytotoxicity of NK-92 has previously been shown against malignant cells of hematologic origin in preclinical studies, and general safety of infusion of NK-92 cells has been established in phase I clinical trials. To enhance their therapeutic utility, we genetically modified NK-92 cells to express chimeric antigen receptors (CAR) specific for tumor-associated surface antigens. Such CAR were composed of a tumor-specific scFv antibody fragment fused via hinge and transmembrane domains to intracellular signaling moieties such as CD3 zeta chain, or composite fusion molecules also containing a costimulatory protein domain in addition to CD3 zeta. For development towards clinical applications, here a codon-optimized second generation CAR was constructed that consists of an ErbB2-specific scFv antibody domain fused via a linker to a composite CD28-CD3 zeta signaling domain. GMP-compliant protocols for vector production, lentiviral transduction and expansion of a genetically modified NK-92 single cell clone (NK-92/5.28.z) were established. Functional analysis of NK-92/5.28.z cells revealed high and stable CAR expression, selective cytotoxicity against ErbB2-expressing but otherwise NK-resistant tumor cells of different origins in vitro, as well as homing to ErbB2-expressing tumors in vivo. Furthermore, antigen specificity and selective cytotoxicity of these cells were retained in vivo, resulting in antitumoral activity against subcutaneous and intracranial glioblastoma xenografts in NSG mice. Ongoing work now focuses on the development of these cells for adoptive immunotherapy of ErbB2-positive glioblastoma.
- Interference with RUNX1/ETO leukemogenic function by cell-penetrating peptides targeting the NHR2 oligomerization domain (2013)
- The leukemia-associated fusion protein RUNX1/ETO is generated by the chromosomal translocation t(8;21) which appears in about 12% of all de novo acute myeloid leukemias (AMLs). Essential for the oncogenic potential of RUNX1/ETO is the oligomerization of the chimeric fusion protein through the nervy homology region 2 (NHR2) within ETO. In previous studies, we have shown that the intracellular expression of peptides containing the NHR2 domain inhibits RUNX1/ETO oligomerization, thereby preventing cell proliferation and inducing differentiation of RUNX1/ETO transformed cells. Here, we show that introduction of a recombinant TAT-NHR2 fusion polypeptide into the RUNX1/ETO growth-dependent myeloid cell line Kasumi-1 results in decreased cell proliferation and increased numbers of apoptotic cells. This effect was highly specific and mediated by binding the TAT-NHR2 peptide to ETO sequences, as TAT-polypeptides containing the oligomerization domain of BCR did not affect cell proliferation or apoptosis in Kasumi-1 cells. Thus, the selective interference with NHR2-mediated oligomerization by peptides represents a challenging but promising strategy for the inhibition of the leukemogenic potential of RUNX1/ETO in t(8;21)-positive leukemia.
- From bench to bedside: preclinical evaluation of a self-inactivating gammaretroviral vector for the gene therapy of X-linked chronic granulomatous disease (2013)
- Chronic granulomatous disease (CGD) is a primary immunodeficiency characterized by impaired antimicrobial activity in phagocytic cells. As a monogenic disease affecting the hematopoietic system, CGD is amenable to gene therapy. Indeed in a phase I/II clinical trial, we demonstrated a transient resolution of bacterial and fungal infections. However, the therapeutic benefit was compromised by the occurrence of clonal dominance and malignant transformation demanding alternative vectors with equal efficacy but safety-improved features. In this work we have developed and tested a self-inactivating (SIN) gammaretroviral vector (SINfes.gp91s) containing a codon-optimized transgene (gp91(phox)) under the transcriptional control of a myeloid promoter for the gene therapy of the X-linked form of CGD (X-CGD). Gene-corrected cells protected X-CGD mice from Aspergillus fumigatus challenge at low vector copy numbers. Moreover, the SINfes.gp91s vector generates substantial amounts of superoxide in human cells transplanted into immunodeficient mice. In vitro genotoxicity assays and longitudinal high-throughput integration site analysis in transplanted mice comprising primary and secondary animals for 11 months revealed a safe integration site profile with no signs of clonal dominance.
- Genomic instability and myelodysplasia with monosomy 7 consequent to EVI1 activation after gene therapy for chronic granulomatous disease (2010)
- Gene-modified autologous hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) can provide ample clinical benefits to subjects suffering from X-linked chronic granulomatous disease (X-CGD), a rare inherited immunodeficiency characterized by recurrent, often life-threatening bacterial and fungal infections. Here we report on the molecular and cellular events observed in two young adults with X-CGD treated by gene therapy in 2004. After the initial resolution of bacterial and fungal infections, both subjects showed silencing of transgene expression due to methylation of the viral promoter, and myelodysplasia with monosomy 7 as a result of insertional activation of ecotropic viral integration site 1 (EVI1). One subject died from overwhelming sepsis 27 months after gene therapy, whereas a second subject underwent an allogeneic HSC transplantation. Our data show that forced overexpression of EVI1 in human cells disrupts normal centrosome duplication, linking EVI1 activation to the development of genomic instability, monosomy 7 and clonal progression toward myelodysplasia.
- DNA damage in oocytes induces a switch of the quality control factor TAp63α from dimer to tetramer (2011)
- TAp63a, a homolog of the p53 tumor suppressor, is a quality control factor in the female germline. Remarkably, already undamaged oocytes express high levels of the protein, suggesting that TAp63a’s activity is under tight control of an inhibitory mechanism. Biochemical studies have proposed that inhibition requires the C-terminal transactivation inhibitory domain. However, the structural mechanism of TAp63a inhibition remains unknown. Here, we show that TAp63a is kept in an inactive dimeric state. We reveal that relief of inhibition leads to tetramer formation with ~20-fold higher DNA affinity. In vivo, phosphorylation-triggered tetramerization of TAp63a is not reversible by dephosphorylation. Furthermore, we show that a helix in the oligomerization domain of p63 is crucial for tetramer stabilization and competes with the transactivation domain for the same binding site. Our results demonstrate how TAp63a is inhibited by complex domain-domain interactions that provide the basis for regulating quality control in oocytes.
- A minimal ubiquitous chromatin opening element (UCOE) effectively prevents silencing of juxtaposed heterologous promoters by epigenetic remodeling in multipotent and pluripotent stem cells (2015)
- Epigenetic silencing of transgene expression represents a major obstacle for the efficient genetic modification of multipotent and pluripotent stem cells. We and others have demonstrated that a 1.5 kb methylation-free CpG island from the human HNRPA2B1-CBX3 housekeeping genes (A2UCOE) effectively prevents transgene silencing and variegation in cell lines, multipotent and pluripotent stem cells, and their differentiated progeny. However, the bidirectional promoter activity of this element may disturb expression of neighboring genes. Furthermore, the epigenetic basis underlying the anti-silencing effect of the UCOE on juxtaposed promoters has been only partially explored. In this study we removed the HNRPA2B1 moiety from the A2UCOE and demonstrate efficient anti-silencing properties also for a minimal 0.7 kb element containing merely the CBX3 promoter. This DNA element largely prevents silencing of viral and tissue-specific promoters in multipotent and pluripotent stem cells. The protective activity of CBX3 was associated with reduced promoter CpG-methylation, decreased levels of repressive and increased levels of active histone marks. Moreover, the anti-silencing effect of CBX3 was locally restricted and when linked to tissue-specific promoters did not activate transcription in off target cells. Thus, CBX3 is a highly attractive element for sustained, tissue-specific and copy-number dependent transgene expression in vitro and in vivo.