The development of novel strategies to enhance gene expression from therapeutic vectors may prove advantageous for complementation gene therapy. This applies to therapeutic expression of the low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) gene to treat familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH), where appropriate gene regulation could enhance therapeutic effect. We have previously reported that LDLR genomic DNA expression vectors can be regulated in vivo by pravastatin. In the current study, we investigated whether targeted knockdown of the mevalonate pathway in conjunction with LDLR delivery would lead to enhanced LDLR transgene expression and improved phenotype recovery. We demonstrated here that knockdown of HMG CoA reductase (HMGCR) by up to 70% using small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) led to a significant increase in binding and internalisation of LDL particles in vitro in mouse and human cells. In vivo co-injection of LDLR promoter luciferase expression plasmids with siRNAs or microRNA (miRNA) expression vectors targeting mouse Hmgcr led to at least a 10-fold increase in luciferase expression. Injection of Ldlr -/- mice with pLDLR-LDLR expression plasmids led to a significant reduction in plasmid LDL cholesterol, which was further enhanced by co-injection with miRNA expression vectors targeted to mouse Hmgcr. Our data suggest that targeted knockdown of HMGCR may enhance gene therapy outcomes for FH. © 2012 Macmillan Publishers Limited All rights reserved.
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