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.
Copyright © 2018 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.