Cyclosporine H Overcomes Innate Immune Restrictions to Improve Lentiviral Transduction and Gene Editing In Human Hematopoietic Stem Cells

Cell Stem Cell. 2018 Dec 6;23(6):820-832.e9. doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2018.10.008. Epub 2018 Nov 8.


Innate immune factors may restrict hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) genetic engineering and contribute to broad individual variability in gene therapy outcomes. Here, we show that HSCs harbor an early, constitutively active innate immune block to lentiviral transduction that can be efficiently overcome by cyclosporine H (CsH). CsH potently enhances gene transfer and editing in human long-term repopulating HSCs by inhibiting interferon-induced transmembrane protein 3 (IFITM3), which potently restricts VSV glycoprotein-mediated vector entry. Importantly, individual variability in endogenous IFITM3 levels correlated with permissiveness of HSCs to lentiviral transduction, suggesting that CsH treatment will be useful for improving ex vivo gene therapy and standardizing HSC transduction across patients. Overall, our work unravels the involvement of innate pathogen recognition molecules in immune blocks to gene correction in primary human HSCs and highlights how these roadblocks can be overcome to develop innovative cell and gene therapies.

Keywords: IFITM3; cyclosporine; gene editing; gene therapy; hematopoietic stem cells; innate immunity; lentiviral vectors; transduction enhancers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cyclosporine / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Gene Editing*
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / drug effects*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / drug effects*
  • Lentivirus / drug effects*
  • Lentivirus / genetics*
  • Lentivirus / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred NOD
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Transduction, Genetic*


  • Cyclosporine
  • cyclosporin H