Long-term physiologically regulated expression of the low-density lipoprotein receptor in vivo using genomic DNA mini-gene constructs.
Hibbitt OC., McNeil E., Lufino MM., Seymour L., Channon K., Wade-Martins R.
Familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is a condition caused by mutations in the low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) gene. Expression of LDLR is highly regulated and excess receptor expression is cytotoxic. To incorporate essential gene regulation into a gene therapy vector for FH, we generated vectors in which the expression of therapeutic human LDLR gene, or luciferase reporter gene, is driven by 10 kb of human LDLR genomic DNA encompassing the promoter region including elements essential for physiologically regulated expression. Using luciferase expression and specific LDL binding and internalization assays, we have shown in vitro that the genomic promoter element confers long-term, physiologically regulated gene expression and complementation of receptor deficiency in culture for 240 cell-generations. This was demonstrated in the presence of sterols or statins, modifiers of LDLR promoter activity. In vivo, we demonstrate efficient liver-specific delivery and expression of luciferase following hydrodynamic tail-vein injection and confirm that expression from the LDLR promoter element is sensitive to statin administration. We also demonstrate long-term LDLR expression from the 10-kb promoter element up to 9 months following delivery. The vector system that we describe provides the efficient delivery, long-term expression, and physiological regulation required for a successful gene therapy intervention for FH.