Effective suppression of HIV-1 replication requires inhibition of critical viral target molecules. Tat and Rev are indispensable regulatory factors for HIV-1 replication, whereas Env mediates virus entry by direct interaction with surface receptor CD4 and coreceptor CCR5 or CXCR4. Anti-HIV-1 tat-rev and env ribozymes and Rev aptamers were previously demonstrated to provide relatively long-term protection against HIV-1 infection in vitro. However, further improvements in these constructs for clinical application in a stem-cell-based gene therapy setting requires in vivo characterization. Toward this end, we introduced these constructs into CD34+ hematopoietic progenitor cells by retrovirus-mediated gene transduction. Ribozyme- and aptamer-transduced CD34+ cells differentiated normally into multiple lineages of erythroid and myeloid progenies in a colony-forming unit assay. Macrophages that differentiated from the transduced CD34+ cells expressed anti-tat-rev and -env ribozymes and Rev aptamers and displayed their normal characteristic surface markers CD14, CD4, and CCR5. Using the SCID-hu mouse in vivo human thymopoiesis model, we demonstrated that ribozyme- and aptamer-transduced CD34+ cells retained their normal capacity to reconstitute human fetal thymus and liver tissue (thy/liv) grafts. Reconstitution by ribozyme- and aptamer-transduced CD34+ cells reached levels of up to 87% based on HLA surface marker staining. Differentiated thymocytes derived from reconstituted grafts expressed anti-tat-rev and -env ribozymes and Rev aptamers and showed significant resistance to HIV-1 infection upon challenge. Analysis of reconstituted thymocytes by hybridization revealed an average of 0.4 to 2 copies of vector sequences per cell. Southern analysis of proviral integration junctions in progeny thymocytes demonstrated that the human thy/liv grafts were reconstituted by a few primitive hematopoietic stem cells. These results highlight the utility of RNA-based anti-HIV-1 gene therapeutic approaches and their preclinical testing in a surrogate animal model harboring human tissue.
Bail, J., Banda, N., Lee, N. S., Rossi, J., & Akkina, R. (2002, December 1). RNA-based anti-HIV-1 gene therapeutic constructs in SCID-hu mouse model. Molecular Therapy. Academic Press Inc. https://doi.org/10.1006/mthe.2002.0800