Ligand-dependent regulation of plasmid-based transgene expression in vivo

Hum Gene Ther. 1999 Jun 10;10(9):1499-507. doi: 10.1089/10430349950017833.


As gene therapy advances, the ability to regulate transgene expression will become paramount for safety and efficacy. In this study, we investigate the ability of the mifepristone-dependent GeneSwitch system to regulate the expression of trangenes delivered to mice by nonviral methods. Two plasmids, one encoding the chimeric GeneSwitch protein, the other an inducible transgene for secreted human placental alkaline phosphatase (SEAP), were delivered to the hind-limb muscles of adult mice. Modulation of the level of secretion of the transgene product into serum was achieved by intraperitoneal administration of low doses of the drug mifepristone (MFP). The EC50 for induction of transgene expression by MFP was 0.03 +/- 0.005 mg/kg. The maximal level of transgene expression after induction was equal to or higher than that displayed by a plasmid driven by the CMV enhancer/promoter. The average magnitude of induction was 14- to 19-fold. Multiple rounds of drug-dependent regulation of transgene expression in vivo were demonstrated. In BALB/c mice, the ability to regulate transgene expression persisted for approximately 3 weeks, until the appearance of neutralizing antibodies to the secreted transgene product. In immune-deficient mice, the ability to repetitively regulate transgene expression persisted for at least 5 weeks. Although the dynamic range of regulation needs improvement, the plasmid-based GeneSwitch system has features that are attractive for gene therapy applications.

MeSH terms

  • Alkaline Phosphatase / genetics
  • Animals
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Fungal Proteins / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation* / drug effects
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Genetic Vectors*
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Ligands
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, SCID
  • Mifepristone / administration & dosage
  • Mifepristone / pharmacology
  • NF-kappa B / genetics*
  • Placenta / enzymology
  • Plasmids*
  • Receptors, Progesterone / genetics*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins*
  • Transcription Factor RelA
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Transgenes


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Fungal Proteins
  • GAL4 protein, S cerevisiae
  • Ligands
  • NF-kappa B
  • Receptors, Progesterone
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Transcription Factor RelA
  • Transcription Factors
  • Mifepristone
  • Alkaline Phosphatase