Highly efficient in vitro and in vivo delivery of functional RNAs using new versatile MS2-chimeric retrovirus-like particles

Mol Ther Methods Clin Dev. 2015 Oct 21:2:15039. doi: 10.1038/mtm.2015.39. eCollection 2015.


RNA delivery is an attractive strategy to achieve transient gene expression in research projects and in cell- or gene-based therapies. Despite significant efforts investigating vector-directed RNA transfer, there is still a requirement for better efficiency of delivery to primary cells and in vivo. Retroviral platforms drive RNA delivery, yet retrovirus RNA-packaging constraints limit gene transfer to two genome-molecules per viral particle. To improve retroviral transfer, we designed a dimerization-independent MS2-driven RNA packaging system using MS2-Coat-retrovirus chimeras. The engineered chimeric particles promoted effective packaging of several types of RNAs and enabled efficient transfer of biologically active RNAs in various cell types, including human CD34(+) and iPS cells. Systemic injection of high-titer particles led to gene expression in mouse liver and transferring Cre-recombinase mRNA in muscle permitted widespread editing at the ROSA26 locus. We could further show that the VLPs were able to activate an osteoblast differentiation pathway by delivering RUNX2- or DLX5-mRNA into primary human bone-marrow mesenchymal-stem cells. Thus, the novel chimeric MS2-lentiviral particles are a versatile tool for a wide range of applications including cellular-programming or genome-editing.