A ubiquitous chromatin opening element (UCOE) confers resistance to DNA methylation-mediated silencing of lentiviral vectors

Mol Ther. 2010 Sep;18(9):1640-9. doi: 10.1038/mt.2010.132. Epub 2010 Jun 29.


DNA methylation may restrict the activity of gene transfer vectors due to inadvertent silencing. In P19 embryonic carcinoma cells in vitro, we found that transgene expression regulated by the SFFV LTR and EF1 alpha promoter declined rapidly within 16 days, but for A2UCOE derived from the human HNRPA2B1-CBX3 housekeeping gene locus, remained completely stable. Silencing correlated with extensive epigenetic methylation of CpG sites, whereas the A2UCOE was almost completely resistant. Linking of the A2UCOE upstream of the SFFV LTR protected this element from both DNA methylation and silencing. Analysis of engrafted hematopoietic cells in vivo transduced with the same vectors revealed a similar pattern. The A2UCOE displayed little or no methylation in either primary or secondary graft recipients, and gene expression profiles were highly conserved between the two groups. These studies provide convincing evidence that DNA methylation plays a direct role in regulating self-inactivating (SIN) lentiviral transgene expression, and that the stability of expression from the A2UCOE is, at least in part, due to methylation resistance. The A2UCOE therefore has considerable utility for gene therapy applications where reliable and sustained gene expression is desirable.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone / genetics*
  • DNA Methylation / genetics
  • DNA Methylation / physiology*
  • Genetic Vectors / genetics*
  • Heterogeneous-Nuclear Ribonucleoprotein Group A-B / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Lentivirus / genetics*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics


  • CBX3 protein, human
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone
  • Heterogeneous-Nuclear Ribonucleoprotein Group A-B
  • hnRNP A2