Minicircle DNA vectors devoid of bacterial DNA result in persistent and high-level transgene expression in vivo

Mol Ther. 2003 Sep;8(3):495-500. doi: 10.1016/s1525-0016(03)00168-0.


The loss of transgene expression has been a major obstacle to the development of nonviral vectors for the treatment of human diseases. We previously demonstrated that bacterial DNA linked to a mammalian expression cassette resulted in transcriptional silencing of the transgene in vivo. To confirm these studies and develop a means to produce a robust DNA vector that is not silenced in vivo, we developed a phage phiC31 integrase-mediated intramolecular recombination technology to prepare minicircle vector DNA devoid of the bacterial backbone and then compared the transgene expression profile of the minicircle with different molecular forms of plasmid DNAs in mice. We demonstrate that minicircular DNAs devoid of bacterial sequences expressed 45- and 560-fold more serum human factor IX and alpha1-antitrypsin, respectively, compared to standard plasmid DNAs transfected into mouse liver. Our data suggest that minicircles are capable of expressing high and persistent levels of therapeutic products in vivo and have a great potential to serve as episomal vectors for the treatment of a wide variety of diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Blotting, Southern
  • Factor IX / genetics
  • Factor IX / metabolism
  • Gene Transfer Techniques*
  • Genetic Vectors*
  • Humans
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Plasmids*
  • Transgenes / physiology*
  • alpha 1-Antitrypsin / genetics
  • alpha 1-Antitrypsin / metabolism


  • alpha 1-Antitrypsin
  • Factor IX