In attempts to further develop murine leukemia virus (MLV) based retroviral vectors for gene therapy, we investigated vector production and anti-sense expression from retroviral constructs with U3 deletions or insertions. Promoter elements in the U3 region of the 3′ LTR of the vector pLXSN were deleted and replaced with DNA encoding the HIV anti-tat gene under control of the tRNA met promoter to produce a double copy self inactivating vector (DC-SIN). DC-SIN constructs were compared to vectors containing the anti-tat cassette inserted at 5 different sites of the U3 region (DC-insertions). Titres of DC-SIN and DC-insertion vectors were similar but approximately 10 fold lower than parental pLXSN. Cells transduced with DC-SIN and DC-insertion vectors all expressed anti-tat mRNA. Transcripts from the MLV-LTR were detected in cells transduced with DC-insertion but not DC-SIN vectors or a vector with the anti-tat cassette between CAAT and TATA boxes of the promoter, indicating inactivation of the viral promoter in the latter vectors. Cells transduced with constructs of either design showed comparable efficacy of protection against HIV challenge. Thus, no U3 insertion site was preferred for virus production. Insertion of a tRNA promoter between CAAT and TATA boxes and the DC-SIN design which would not introduce an active RNA pol II promoter into the genome are attractive for further development of safe gene therapy agents.
Archives of Virology – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 1, 2001
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