Zinc-finger nuclease-mediated gene correction using single AAV vector transduction and enhancement by Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs

Gene Ther. 2013 Jan;20(1):35-42. doi: 10.1038/gt.2011.211. Epub 2012 Jan 19.


An emerging strategy for the treatment of monogenic diseases uses genetic engineering to precisely correct the mutation(s) at the genome level. Recent advancements in this technology have demonstrated therapeutic levels of gene correction using a zinc-finger nuclease (ZFN)-induced DNA double-strand break in conjunction with an exogenous DNA donor substrate. This strategy requires efficient nucleic acid delivery and among viral vectors, recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) has demonstrated clinical success without pathology. However, a major limitation of rAAV is the small DNA packaging capacity and to date, the use of rAAV for ZFN gene delivery has yet to be reported. Theoretically, an ideal situation is to deliver both ZFNs and the repair substrate in a single vector to avoid inefficient gene targeting and unwanted mutagenesis, both complications of a rAAV co-transduction strategy. Therefore, a rAAV format was generated in which a single polypeptide encodes the ZFN monomers connected by a ribosome skipping 2A peptide and furin cleavage sequence. On the basis of this arrangement, a DNA repair substrate of 750 nucleotides was also included in this vector. Efficient polypeptide processing to discrete ZFNs is demonstrated, as well as the ability of this single vector format to stimulate efficient gene targeting in a human cell line and mouse model derived fibroblasts. Additionally, we increased rAAV-mediated gene correction up to sixfold using a combination of Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs, which act at the level of AAV vector transduction. Collectively, these experiments demonstrate the ability to deliver ZFNs and a repair substrate by a single AAV vector and offer insights for the optimization of rAAV-mediated gene correction using drug therapy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • 3T3 Cells
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • DNA Repair
  • Dependovirus / genetics*
  • Endonucleases / genetics*
  • Genetic Vectors*
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Transduction, Genetic*
  • Transformation, Genetic / drug effects
  • United States
  • United States Food and Drug Administration
  • Zinc Fingers*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Endonucleases