Sequence-Modified Antibiotic Resistance Genes Provide Sustained Plasmid-Mediated Transgene Expression in Mammals

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Abstract

Conventional plasmid vectors are incapable of achieving sustained levels of transgene expression in vivo even in quiescent mammalian tissues because the transgene expression cassette is silenced. Transcriptional silencing results from the presence of the bacterial plasmid backbone or virtually any DNA sequence of >1 kb in length placed outside of the expression cassette. Here, we show that transcriptional silencing can be substantially forestalled by increasing the An/Tn sequence composition in the plasmid bacterial backbone. Increasing numbers of An/Tn sequences increased sustained transcription of both backbone sequences and adjacent expression cassettes. In order to recapitulate these expression profiles in compact and portable plasmid DNA backbones, we engineered the standard kanamycin or ampicillin antibiotic resistance genes, optimizing the number of An/Tn sequence without altering the encoded amino acids. The resulting vector backbones yield sustained transgene expression from mouse liver, providing generic DNA vectors capable of sustained transgene expression without additional genes or mammalian regulatory elements.

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Lu, J., Zhang, F., Fire, A. Z., & Kay, M. A. (2017). Sequence-Modified Antibiotic Resistance Genes Provide Sustained Plasmid-Mediated Transgene Expression in Mammals. Molecular Therapy, 25(5), 1187–1198. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ymthe.2017.03.003

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