Promoterless gene targeting without nucleases ameliorates haemophilia B in mice

A. Barzel, N. K. Paulk, Y. Shi, Y. Huang, K. Chu, F. Zhang, P. N. Valdmanis, L. P. Spector, M. H. Porteus, K. M. Gaensler, M. A. Kay*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Site-specific gene addition can allow stable transgene expression for gene therapy. When possible, this is preferred over the use of promiscuously integrating vectors,which are sometimes associated with clonal expansion and oncogenesis. Site-specific endonucleases that can induce high rates of targeted genome editing are finding increasing applications in biological discovery and gene therapy. However, two safety concerns persist: endonuclease-associated adverse effects, both on-target and off-target; and oncogene activation caused by promoter integration, even without nucleases. Here we performrecombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV)-mediated promoterless gene targeting without nucleases and demonstrate amelioration of the bleeding diathesis in haemophilia B mice. In particular, we target apromoterlesshumancoagulation factor IX (F9) gene to the liverexpressed mouse albumin (Alb) locus. F9 is targeted, along with a preceding 2A-peptide coding sequence, to be integrated just upstream to theAlb stop codon. WhileF9 is fused toAlb at theDNAandRNA levels, two separate proteins are synthesized byway of ribosomal skipping. Thus, F9 expression is linked to robust hepatic albumin expression without disrupting it.Weinjected anAAV8-F9 vector into neonatal and adult mice and achieved on-target integration into 0.5% of the albumin alleles in hepatocytes. We established that F9 was produced only from on-target integration, and ribosomal skipping was highly efficient. Stable F9 plasma levels at 7-20% of normal were obtained, and treated F9-deficient mice had normal coagulation times. In conclusion, transgene integration as a 2A-fusion to a highly expressed endogenous gene may obviate the requirement for nucleases and/or vector-borne promoters. This method may allow for safe and efficacious gene targeting in both infants and adults by greatly diminishing off-target effectswhile still providing therapeutic levels of expression from integration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)360-364
Number of pages5
Issue number7534
StatePublished - 15 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


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