AAV Gene Transfer with Tandem Promoter Design Prevents Anti-transgene Immunity and Provides Persistent Efficacy in Neonate Pompe Mice

Mol Ther Methods Clin Dev. 2018 Nov 17;12:85-101. doi: 10.1016/j.omtm.2018.11.002. eCollection 2019 Mar 15.

Abstract

Hepatocyte-restricted, AAV-mediated gene transfer is being used to provide sustained, tolerogenic transgene expression in gene therapy. However, given the episomal status of the AAV genome, this approach cannot be applied to pediatric disorders when hepatocyte proliferation may result in significant loss of therapeutic efficacy over time. In addition, many multi-systemic diseases require widespread expression of the therapeutic transgene that, when provided with ubiquitous or tissue-specific non-hepatic promoters, often results in anti-transgene immunity. Here we have developed tandem promoter monocistronic expression cassettes that, packaged in a single AAV, provide combined hepatic and extra-hepatic tissue-specific transgene expression and prevent anti-transgene immunity. We validated our approach in infantile Pompe disease, a prototype disease caused by lack of the ubiquitous enzyme acid-alpha-glucosidase (GAA), presenting multi-systemic manifestations and detrimental anti-GAA immunity. We showed that the use of efficient tandem promoters prevents immune responses to GAA following systemic AAV gene transfer in immunocompetent Gaa-/- mice. Then we demonstrated that neonatal gene therapy with either AAV8 or AAV9 in Gaa-/- mice resulted in persistent therapeutic efficacy when using a tandem liver-muscle promoter (LiMP) that provided high and persistent transgene expression in non-dividing extra-hepatic tissues. In conclusion, the tandem promoter design overcomes important limitations of AAV-mediated gene transfer and can be beneficial when treating pediatric conditions requiring persistent multi-systemic transgene expression and prevention of anti-transgene immunity.

Keywords: AAV; gene therapy; tandem promoters; transgene immunity; transgene persistence.