Sustained miRNA-mediated knockdown of mutant AAT with simultaneous augmentation of wild-type AAT has minimal effect on global liver miRNA profiles

Mol Ther. 2012 Mar;20(3):590-600. doi: 10.1038/mt.2011.292. Epub 2012 Jan 17.


α-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency can exhibit two pathologic states: a lung disease that is primarily due to the loss of AAT's antiprotease function, and a liver disease resulting from a toxic gain-of-function of the PiZ-AAT (Z-AAT) mutant protein. We have developed several recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) vectors that incorporate microRNA (miRNA) sequences targeting the AAT gene while also driving the expression of miRNA-resistant wild-type AAT-PiM (M-AAT) gene, thus achieving concomitant Z-AAT knockdown in the liver and increased expression of M-AAT. Transgenic mice expressing the human PiZ allele treated with dual-function rAAV9 vectors showed that serum PiZ was stably and persistently reduced by an average of 80%. Treated animals showed knockdown of Z-AAT in liver and serum with concomitant increased serum M-AAT as determined by allele-specific enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs). In addition, decreased globular accumulation of misfolded Z-AAT in hepatocytes and a reduction in inflammatory infiltrates in the liver was observed. Results from microarray studies demonstrate that endogenous miRNAs were minimally affected by this treatment. These data suggests that miRNA mediated knockdown does not saturate the miRNA pathway as has been seen with viral vector expression of short hairpin RNAs (shRNAs). This safe dual-therapy approach can be applied to other disorders such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Huntington disease, cerebral ataxia, and optic atrophies.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Dependovirus / genetics
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Gene Order
  • Gene Silencing*
  • Gene Transfer Techniques
  • Genetic Vectors / genetics
  • Humans
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • MicroRNAs / chemistry
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism*
  • Mutation
  • alpha 1-Antitrypsin / genetics*


  • MicroRNAs
  • alpha 1-Antitrypsin