Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Gene taxi with turbo drive

15.02.2018

Scientists at the German Primate Center improve DNA transfer in gene therapy

Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, cystic fibrosis – these and many other fatal hereditary human diseases are genetically transmitted. Many cancers and cardiovascular diseases are also caused by genetic defects. Gene therapy is a promising possibility for the treatment of these diseases. With the help of genetically modified viruses, DNA is introduced into cells in order to repair or replace defective genes.


After infection with CD9-containing viruses, human HEK293 cells produce a red fluorescent reporter protein that indicates the successful transmission of viral genetic information into the cells.

Photo: Kai Böker


Dr. Jens Gruber is head of the Junior Research Group Medical RNA Biology at the German Primate Center.

Photo: Christian Kiel

By using this method, scientists from the German Primate Center (DPZ) – Leibniz Institute for Primate Research have discovered a quicker and more efficient treatment for the cells. For this purpose, the scientists changed the so-called HEK293 cell line that is used for the production of therapeutic viruses. The cells then produced a protein called CD9 in large quantities.

In addition, they modified the viruses used for gene transfer in such a way that CD9 is integrated into their envelope membrane. These genetic manipulations resulted in a faster and more efficient infection of the target cells. The resulting higher transfer rate of DNA into the target cells promises new and improved gene therapy treatment. The study was published in the journal Molecular Therapy.

The ability of viruses to introduce their genetic material into the host cells is used as a tool in gene therapy. These "gene taxis" consist of modified viruses, the so-called viral vectors. They are equipped with fully functional genes to replace the defective disease-causing genes in the cells. However, the prerequisite for this is that the viruses recognize and infect the corresponding cells. This is the point where the research of the junior research group Medical RNA Biology at the German Primate Center comes in.

Transport bubbles in the cell should increase the efficiency of gene therapy

“In our study, we wanted to find out if it was possible to improve the infection rate of viral vectors and how,” says Jens Gruber, head of the junior research group and senior author of the study. “At the moment, the infection rates, depending on the target cells, are often around 20 percent, which is not enough for certain therapies.”

To change that, the researchers looked at the production of the so-called exosomes to find out how to use this mechanism in order for the virus vectors to become more efficient. Exosomes are small membrane vesicles filled with proteins, RNA or other molecules. They are used for the transportation of cell components and for intercellular communication. “Our hypothesis was that we could improve the production of viruses and their efficiency by boosting exosome production in the cells,” explains Jens Gruber explaining the relevance of the transport vesicles for the study.

In order to produce large quantities of the CD9 protein, Jens Gruber and his team genetically engineered the HEK293 cell lines that are used for the production of viral vectors. This protein is known for its function in cell movement, cell-cell contact, and membrane fusion. The assumption was that it could also play a role in exosome production. In addition, scientists incorporated the CD9 protein into the envelope membrane of viral vectors. “We were able to observe two things,” Jens Gruber summarizes the results.

“Firstly, in comparison to the untreated HEK293 cells, exosome production in the HEK293-CD9 cells increased significantly, which suggests a crucial role of the protein in exosome formation. Secondly, the incorporation of the CD9 protein in the viral membrane has significantly improved the transfer of DNA. This was observed in an increased number of infected target cells that carried the desired gene without the implementation of additional virus vectors.”

80 percent infection rate

The increased amount of CD9 in the virus resulted in a higher infection rate that amounted to approximately 80 percent. The protein appears to have a direct impact on exosome production and virus efficiency, which has previously not been described. “The results of our study provide us with a better understanding of exosome formation as well as virus production in cells,” says Jens Gruber. “These findings can be used to make currently used virus-based gene therapies more efficient. In future, one might be able to completely abstain from using viruses and only use exosomes to transport genetic material into target cells."


Original publication

Böker KO, Lemus-Diaz N, Rinaldi Ferreira R, Schiller L, Schneider S, Gruber J (2017): The impact of the CD9 tetraspanin on lentivirus infectivity and exosome secretion. Molecular Therapy, 26(2), DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ymthe.2017.11.008

Contact and notes for editors

Dr. Jens Gruber
Tel.: +49 (0) 551 3851 193
E-Mail: jgruber@dpz.eu

Dr. Sylvia Siersleben (Communication)
Phone: +49 (0) 551 3851 163
Email: ssiersleben@dpz.eu

Weitere Informationen:

http://medien.dpz.eu/webgate/keyword.html?currentContainerId=4241http://www.dpz....

Dr. Susanne Diederich | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht One step closer to reality
20.04.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Entwicklungsbiologie

nachricht The dark side of cichlid fish: from cannibal to caregiver
20.04.2018 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Magnetic nano-imaging on a table top

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Start of work for the world's largest electric truck

20.04.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research

Atoms may hum a tune from grand cosmic symphony

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>