"The new transposon system is able to introduce genes into cells and to stably insert them into the cell's genome at an unprecedented efficiency," Dr. Lajos Mátés, Dr. Zoltán Ivics and Dr. Zsuzsanna Izsvák point out. They worked together with scientists from the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium (Nature Genetics, doi: 10.1038/ng.343).*
Transposable elements are molecular parasites that propagate themselves in genomes. But at the same time they provide plasticity to the genome that clearly contributed to the evolution of gene function across the tree of life. About half of the human genome is derived from ancient transposable element sequences, Dr. Izsvák remarks.
However, due to mutations, the vast majority of the transposons became inactivated. Based on transposons in fish that are presumed to have been active approximately 20 million years ago, Dr. Ivics and Dr. Izsvák resurrected a jumping gene more than ten years ago. They named the transposon Sleeping Beauty, because they literally awakened it after a long evolutionary "sleep".
With their new tool, they were able to introduce genes into cells of vertebrates which was impossible before, as researchers previously lacked efficient transposon technologies to do so. However, the efficiency of the new transposon remained limited in some cells, such as stem cells.Hundredfold Increase in Sleeping Beauty's Activity
Currently, scientists use disarmed viruses or a variety of non-virus based methods to get genes into cells. However, these methods are either too dangerous or too inefficient for broad application in gene therapy. Experiments with the new transposon system in mice showed that transgenes enter the genome safely and are stably integrated, says Dr. Ivics. Even after a year, the genes were still active.
The MDC researchers hope that their new tool is going to become the new standard method to introduce genes into cells. "Already this year, the first clinical trial with the transposon developed in our lab shall take place in the USA", says Dr. Ivics. According to him, Sleeping Beauty will be used to transport a therapeutic gene into isolated immune cells (T cells). These altered cells will then be used to treat a specific form of cancer (B-lymphoid malignancies) in patients.
The research is part of a project funded by the European Union and coordinated by the MDC. Together with nine partners from seven European countries, the MDC-researchers seek for novel, nonviral technologies for therapeutic gene delivery.
*Molecular Evolution of a Novel Hyperactive Sleeping Beauty Transposase Enables Robust Stable Gene Transfer in Vertebrates
Lajos Mátés1,*, Marinee K. L. Chuah2,*, Eyayu Belay2, Boris Jerchow1, Namitha Manoj1, Abel Acosta-Sanchez2, Dawid P. Grzela1, Andrea Schmitt1, Katja Becker1, Janka Matrai2, Ling Ma2, Esmira Samara-Kuko2, Cony Gysemans5, Diana Pryputniewicz1, Csaba Miskey1, Bradley Fletcher3, Thierry VandenDriessche2, Zoltán Ivics1 and Zsuzsanna Izsvák1,4* Contributed equally
5 Department of Experimental Medicine, Laboratory for Experimental Transplantation, University of Leuven, BelgiumBarbara Bachtler
Barbara Bachtler | Max-Delbrück-Centrum
Inactivate vaccines faster and more effectively using electron beams
23.03.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Organische Elektronik, Elektronenstrahl- und Plasmatechnik FEP
Hunting pathogens at full force
22.03.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
22.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
22.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
22.03.2017 | Materials Sciences