Promoterless Gene Targeting Approach Combined to CRISPR/Cas9 Efficiently Corrects Hemophilia B Phenotype in Neonatal Mice

Michela Lisjak, Alessia De Caneva, Thibaut Marais, Elena Barbon, Maria Grazia Biferi, Fabiola Porro, Adi Barzel, Lorena Zentilin, Mark A. Kay, Federico Mingozzi, Andrés F. Muro*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Many inborn errors of metabolism require life-long treatments and, in severe conditions involving the liver, organ transplantation remains the only curative treatment. Non-integrative AAV-mediated gene therapy has shown efficacy in adult patients. However, treatment in pediatric or juvenile settings, or in conditions associated with hepatocyte proliferation, may result in rapid loss of episomal viral DNA and thus therapeutic efficacy. Re-administration of the therapeutic vector later in time may not be possible due to the presence of anti-AAV neutralizing antibodies. We have previously shown the permanent rescue of the neonatal lethality of a Crigler-Najjar mouse model by applying an integrative gene-therapy based approach. Here, we targeted the human coagulation factor IX (hFIX) cDNA into a hemophilia B mouse model. Two AAV8 vectors were used: a promoterless vector with two arms of homology for the albumin locus, and a vector carrying the CRISPR/SaCas9 and the sgRNA. Treatment of neonatal P2 wild-type mice resulted in supraphysiological levels of hFIX being stable 10 months after dosing. A single injection of the AAV vectors into neonatal FIX KO mice also resulted in the stable expression of above-normal levels of hFIX, reaching up to 150% of the human levels. Mice subjected to tail clip analysis showed a clotting capacity comparable to wild-type animals, thus demonstrating the rescue of the disease phenotype. Immunohistological analysis revealed clusters of hFIX-positive hepatocytes. When we tested the approach in adult FIX KO mice, we detected hFIX in plasma by ELISA and in the liver by western blot. However, the hFIX levels were not sufficient to significantly ameliorate the bleeding phenotype upon tail clip assay. Experiments conducted using a AAV donor vectors containing the eGFP or the hFIX cDNAs showed a higher recombination rate in P2 mice compared to adult animals. With this study, we demonstrate an alternative gene targeting strategy exploiting the use of the CRISPR/SaCas9 platform that can be potentially applied in the treatment of pediatric patients suffering from hemophilia, also supporting its application to other liver monogenic diseases. For the treatment of adult patients, further studies for the improvement of targeting efficiency are still required.

Original languageEnglish
Article number785698
JournalFrontiers in Genome Editing
Volume4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

Keywords

  • CRISPR/SaCas9
  • GeneRide
  • albumin gene targeting
  • coagulation factor IX
  • mouse model
  • tail clip test

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