Author(s): Anderson J, Akkina R
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Abstract BACKGROUND: RNA interference (RNAi) mediated by small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) has proved to be a highly effective gene silencing mechanism with great potential for HIV/AIDS gene therapy. Previous work with siRNAs against cellular coreceptors CXCR4 and CCR5 had shown that down regulation of these surface molecules could prevent HIV-1 entry and confer viral resistance. Since monospecific siRNAs targeting individual coreceptors are inadequate in protecting against both T cell tropic (X4) and monocyte tropic (R5) viral strains simultaneously, bispecific constructs with dual specificity are required. For effective long range therapy, the bispecific constructs need to be stably transduced into HIV-1 target cells via integrating viral vectors. RESULTS: To achieve this goal, lentiviral vectors incorporating both CXCR4 and CCR5 siRNAs of short hairpin design were constructed. The CXCR4 siRNA was driven by a U6 promoter whereas the CCR5 siRNA was driven by an H1 promoter. A CMV promoter driven EGFP reporter gene is also incorporated in the bispecific construct. High efficiency transduction into coreceptor expressing Magi and Ghost cell lines with a concomitant down regulation of respective coreceptors was achieved with lentiviral vectors. When the siRNA expressing transduced cells were challenged with X4 and R5 tropic HIV-1, they demonstrated marked viral resistance. HIV-1 resistance was also observed in bispecific lentiviral vector transduced primary PBMCs. CONCLUSIONS: Both CXCR4 and CCR5 coreceptors could be simultaneously targeted for down regulation by a single combinatorial lentiviral vector incorporating respective anti-coreceptor siRNAs. Stable down regulation of both the coreceptors protects cells against infection by both X4 and R5 tropic HIV-1. Stable down regulation of cellular molecules that aid in HIV-1 infection will be an effective strategy for long range HIV gene therapy.
This article was published in AIDS Res Ther
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