Liver-specific transcriptional modules identified by genome-wide in silico analysis enable efficient gene therapy in mice and non-human primates

Mol Ther. 2014 Sep;22(9):1605-13. doi: 10.1038/mt.2014.114. Epub 2014 Jun 23.


The robustness and safety of liver-directed gene therapy can be substantially improved by enhancing expression of the therapeutic transgene in the liver. To achieve this, we developed a new approach of rational in silico vector design. This approach relies on a genome-wide bio-informatics strategy to identify cis-acting regulatory modules (CRMs) containing evolutionary conserved clusters of transcription factor binding site motifs that determine high tissue-specific gene expression. Incorporation of these CRMs into adeno-associated viral (AAV) and non-viral vectors enhanced gene expression in mice liver 10 to 100-fold, depending on the promoter used. Furthermore, these CRMs resulted in robust and sustained liver-specific expression of coagulation factor IX (FIX), validating their immediate therapeutic and translational relevance. Subsequent translational studies indicated that therapeutic FIX expression levels could be attained reaching 20-35% of normal levels after AAV-based liver-directed gene therapy in cynomolgus macaques. This study underscores the potential of rational vector design using computational approaches to improve their robustness and therefore allows for the use of lower and thus safer vector doses for gene therapy, while maximizing therapeutic efficacy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Binding Sites*
  • Computational Biology / methods*
  • Conserved Sequence
  • Dependovirus / genetics*
  • Factor IX / genetics
  • Factor IX / metabolism
  • Genetic Vectors / administration & dosage
  • Genome
  • Humans
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Liver / virology
  • Macaca / genetics
  • Macaca / virology*
  • Mice
  • Organ Specificity
  • Regulatory Elements, Transcriptional
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Transcription Factors
  • Factor IX