Transient in vivo beta-globin production after lentiviral gene transfer to hematopoietic stem cells in the nonhuman primate

Hum Gene Ther. 2009 Jun;20(6):563-72. doi: 10.1089/hum.2008.186.


Inherited disorders of globin synthesis remain desirable targets for hematopoietic stem cell (HSC)-based therapies. Gene transfer using retroviral vectors offers an alternative to allogeneic HSC transplantation by the permanent integration of potentially therapeutic genes into primary autologous HSCs. Although proof of principle has been demonstrated in humans, this approach has been met by formidable obstacles, and large-animal models have become increasingly important for the preclinical development of gene addition strategies. Here we report lentiviral gene transfer of the human beta-globin gene under the control of the globin promoter and large fragments of the globin locus control region (LCR) in the nonhuman primate. Using an HIV-1, vesicular stomatitis virus glycoprotein G (VSV-G)-pseudotyped vector, modified to overcome a species-specific restriction to HIV-1, gene transfer to colony-forming units (CFU) derived from mobilized peripheral blood (PB) rhesus CD34+ cells was 84.4 +/- 2.33%. Erythroid cells derived from transduced rhesus CD34+ cells expressed human beta-globin at high levels as assessed by flow cytometry with a human beta-globin-specific antibody. Two rhesus macaques (RQ3586 and RQ3583) were transplanted with mobilized PB CD34+ cells transduced with our modified HIV vector at a multiplicity of infection of 80. High gene transfer rates to CFUs were achieved in vitro (RQ3586, 87.5%; RQ3583, 83.3%), with efficient human beta-globin expression among erythroid progeny generated in vitro. Early posttransplantation, gene transfer rates of 5% or higher were detectable and confirmed by genomic Southern blotting, with equivalent-level human beta-globin expression detected by flow cytometry. Long-term gene marking levels among mononuclear cells and granulocytes assessed by quantitative polymerase chain reaction gradually decreased to about 0.001% at 2 years, likely due to additional HIV-1 restrictive elements in the rhesus macaque. No evidence of clonal hematopoiesis has occurred in our animals in up to 2 years. Current efforts are aimed at developing a lentiviral vector capable of efficiently transducing both human and rhesus HSCs to allow preclinical modeling of globin gene transfer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Antigens, CD34 / metabolism
  • Blotting, Southern
  • Cell Count
  • Colony-Forming Units Assay
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Gene Transfer Techniques*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Lentivirus / genetics*
  • Macaca mulatta / metabolism*
  • Time Factors
  • Transduction, Genetic
  • beta-Globins / biosynthesis*


  • Antigens, CD34
  • beta-Globins