Reverse transcriptase (RT) of Human Immunodeficiency Virus type 1 (HIV-1) is synthesized and packaged into the virion as a part of the GagPol polyprotein. Mature RT is released by the action of viral protease. However unlike other viral proteins RT is subject to an internal cleavage event leading to the formation of two subunits in the virion - a p66 subunit and a p51 subunit that lacks the RNase H domain. We have previously identified RNase H as an HIV-1 protein that has the potential to be a substrate for the N-end rule pathway that is an ubiquitin dependent proteolytic system in which the identity of the N-terminal amino acid determines the half-life of a protein. Here we examined the importance of the N-terminal amino acid residue of RNase H in the early life cycle of HIV-1. We show that changing this residue to a structurally different amino acid than the conserved residue leads to degradation of RT and in some cases integrase in the virus particle and this abolishes infectivity. Using intravirion complementation and in vitro protease cleavage assays we show that degradation of RNase H N-terminal mutant RT occurs in the absence of active viral protease in the virion. Our results also indicate the importance of the RNase H N-terminal residue in the dimerization of RT subunits.
Abstract The Sleeping Beauty (SB) transposon system has been shown to mediate new gene sequence integration resulting in long-term expression. Here the effectiveness of hyperactive SB100X transposase was tested, and we found that hydrodynamic co-delivery of a firefly luciferase transposon (pT2/CaL) along with SB100X transposase (pCMV-SB100X) resulted in remarkably sustained, high levels of luciferase expression. However, after 4 weeks there was a rapid, animal-by-animal loss of luciferase expression that was not observed in immunodeficient mice. We hypothesized that this sustained, high-level luciferase expression achieved using the SB100X transposase elicits an immune response in pT2/CaL co-administered mice, which was supported by the rapid loss of luciferase expression upon challenge of previously treated animals and in naive animals adoptively transferred with splenocytes from previously treated animals. Specificity of the immune response to luciferase was demonstrated by increased cytokine expression in splenocytes after exposure to luciferase peptide in parallel with MHC I-luciferase peptide tetramer binding. This anti-luciferase immune response observed following continuous, high-level luciferase expression in vivo clearly impacts its use as an in vivo reporter. As both an immunogen and an extremely sensitive reporter, luciferase is also a useful model system for the study of immune responses following in vivo gene transfer and expression.
Recombinant mammalian cells are the major hosts for the production of protein therapeutics. In addition to high expression of the product gene, a hyper-producer must also harbor superior phenotypic traits related to metabolism, protein secretion, and growth control. Introduction of genes endowing the relevant hyper-productivity traits is a strategy frequently used to enhance the productivity. Most of such cell engineering efforts have been performed using constitutive expression systems. However, cells respond to various environmental cues and cellular events dynamically according to cellular needs. The use of inducible systems allows for time dependent expression, but requires external manipulation. Ideally, a transgenes expression should be synchronous to the host cells own rhythm, and at levels appropriate for the objective. To that end, we identified genes with different expression dynamics and intensity ranges using pooled transcriptome data. Their promoters may be used to drive the expression of the transgenes following the desired dynamics. We isolated the promoter of the Thioredoxin-interacting protein (Txnip) gene and demonstrated its capability to drive transgene expression in concert with cell growth. We further employed this Chinese hamster promoter to engineer dynamic expression of the mouse GLUT5 fructose transporter in Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells, enabling them to utilize sugar according to cellular needs rather than in excess as typically seen in culture. Thus, less lactate was produced, resulting in a better growth rate, prolonged culture duration, and higher product titer. This approach illustrates a novel concept in metabolic engineering which can potentially be used to achieve dynamic control of cellular behaviors for enhanced process characteristics.
Integration of double stranded viral DNA is a key step in the retroviral life cycle. Virally encoded enzyme, integrase, plays a central role in this reaction. Mature forms of integrase of several retroviruses (i.e. HIV-1 and MLV) bear conserved destabilizing N-terminal residues of the N-end rule pathway - a ubiquitin dependent proteolytic system in which the N-terminal residue of a protein determines its half life. Substrates of the N-end rule pathway are recognized by E3 ubiquitin ligases called N-recognins. We have previously shown that the inactivation of three of these N-recognins, namely UBR1, UBR2 and UBR4 in mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) leads to increased stability of ectopically expressed HIV-1 integrase. These findings have prompted us to investigate the involvement of the N-end rule pathway in the HIV-1 life cycle.
Artemis is an endonucleolytic enzyme involved in nonhomologous double-strand break repair and V(D)J recombination. Deficiency of Artemis results in a B- T- radiosensitive severe combined immunodeficiency, which may potentially be treatable by Artemis gene transfer into hematopoietic stem cells. However, we recently found that overexpression of Artemis after lentiviral transduction resulted in global DNA damage and increased apoptosis. These results imply the necessity of effecting natural levels of Artemis expression, so we isolated a 1 kilobase DNA sequence upstream of the human Artemis gene to recover and characterize the Artemis promoter (APro). The sequence includes numerous potential transcription factor-binding sites, and several transcriptional start sites were mapped by 5 rapid amplification of cDNA ends. APro and deletion constructs conferred significant reporter gene expression in vitro that was markedly reduced in comparison to expression regulated by the human elongation factor 1-? promoter. Ex vivo lentiviral transduction of an APro-regulated green fluorescent protein (GFP) construct in mouse marrow supported GFP expression throughout hematopoeitic lineages in primary transplant recipients and was sustained in secondary recipients. The human Artemis promoter thus provides sustained and moderate levels of gene expression that will be of significant utility for therapeutic gene transfer into hematopoeitic stem cells.
TALENs are important new tools for genome engineering. Fusions of transcription activator-like (TAL) effectors of plant pathogenic Xanthomonas spp. to the FokI nuclease, TALENs bind and cleave DNA in pairs. Binding specificity is determined by customizable arrays of polymorphic amino acid repeats in the TAL effectors. We present a method and reagents for efficiently assembling TALEN constructs with custom repeat arrays. We also describe design guidelines based on naturally occurring TAL effectors and their binding sites. Using software that applies these guidelines, in nine genes from plants, animals and protists, we found candidate cleavage sites on average every 35?bp. Each of 15 sites selected from this set was cleaved in a yeast-based assay with TALEN pairs constructed with our reagents. We used two of the TALEN pairs to mutate HPRT1 in human cells and ADH1 in Arabidopsis thaliana protoplasts. Our reagents include a plasmid construct for making custom TAL effectors and one for TAL effector fusions to additional proteins of interest. Using the former, we constructed de novo a functional analog of AvrHah1 of Xanthomonas gardneri. The complete plasmid set is available through the non-profit repository AddGene and a web-based version of our software is freely accessible online.
Trinucleotide expansions cause disease by both protein- and RNA-mediated mechanisms. Unexpectedly, we discovered that CAG expansion constructs express homopolymeric polyglutamine, polyalanine, and polyserine proteins in the absence of an ATG start codon. This repeat-associated non-ATG translation (RAN translation) occurs across long, hairpin-forming repeats in transfected cells or when expansion constructs are integrated into the genome in lentiviral-transduced cells and brains. Additionally, we show that RAN translation across human spinocerebellar ataxia type 8 (SCA8) and myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) CAG expansion transcripts results in the accumulation of SCA8 polyalanine and DM1 polyglutamine expansion proteins in previously established SCA8 and DM1 mouse models and human tissue. These results have implications for understanding fundamental mechanisms of gene expression. Moreover, these toxic, unexpected, homopolymeric proteins now should be considered in pathogenic models of microsatellite disorders.
Artemis is a hairpin-opening endonuclease involved in nonhomologous end-joining and V(D)J recombination. Deficiency of Artemis results in radiation-sensitive severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) characterized by complete absence of T and B cells due to an arrest at the receptor recombination stage. We have generated several lentiviral vectors for transduction of the Artemis sequence, intending to complement the deficient phenotype. We found that transduction by a lentiviral vector in which Artemis is regulated by a strong EF-1alpha promoter resulted in a dose-dependent loss of cell viability due to perturbed cell cycle distribution, increased DNA damage, and increased apoptotic cell frequency. This toxic response was not observed in cultures exposed to identical amounts of control vector. Loss of cell viability was also observed in cells transfected with an Artemis expression construct, indicating that toxicity is independent of lentiviral transduction. Reduced toxicity was observed when cells were transduced with a moderate-strength phosphoglycerate kinase promoter to regulate Artemis expression. These results present a novel challenge in the establishment of conditions that support Artemis expression at levels that are nontoxic yet sufficient to correct the T(-)B(-) phenotype, crucial for preclinical studies and clinical application of Artemis gene transfer in the treatment of human SCID-A.
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