Author(s): Hauck B, Murphy SL, Smith PH, Qu G, Liu X,
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Abstract In a gene therapy clinical trial for hemophilia B, adeno-associated virus 2 (AAV2) capsid-specific CD8(+) T cells were previously implicated in the elimination of vector-transduced hepatocytes, resulting in loss of human factor IX (hFIX) transgene expression. To test the hypothesis that expression of AAV2 cap DNA impurities in the AAV2-hFIX vector was the source of epitopes presented on transduced cells, transcription of cap was assessed by quantitative reverse transcription-PCR (Q-RT-PCR) following transduction of target cells with the vector used in the clinical trial. Transcriptional profiling was also performed for residual Amp(R), and adenovirus E2A and E4. Although trace amounts of DNA impurities were present in the clinical vector, transcription of these sequences was not detected after transduction of human hepatocytes, nor in mice administered a dose 26-fold above the highest dose administered in the clinical study. Two methods used to minimize encapsidated DNA impurities in the clinical vector were: (i) a vector (cis) production plasmid with a backbone exceeding the packaging limit of AAV; and (ii) a vector purification step that achieved separation of the vector from vector-related impurities (e.g., empty capsids). In conclusion, residual cap expression was undetectable following transduction with AAV2-hFIX clinical vectors. Preformed capsid protein is implicated as the source of epitopes recognized by CD8(+) T cells that eliminated vector-transduced cells in the clinical study.
This article was published in Mol Ther
and referenced in Journal of Genetic Syndromes & Gene Therapy