Cerebral dopamine neurotrophic factor (CDNF) shows beneficial effects in rodent models of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. The brain is a challenging target for protein therapy due to its exclusive blood-brain barrier. Hence, the therapeutic protein should be delivered directly to the brain parenchyma. Implantation of encapsulated mammalian cells that constantly secrete CDNF is a potential approach for targeted and long-term protein delivery to the brain. In this study, we generated several CDNF-secreting cell clones derived from human retinal pigment epithelial cell line ARPE-19, and studied CDNF secretion from the clones maintained as monolayers and in polymeric microcapsules. The secretion of wild type (wt) CDNF transgene was low and the majority of the produced protein remained intracellular, locating mainly to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). The secretion of wtCDNF decreased to even lower levels when the clones were in a non-dividing state, as in the microcapsules. Both codon optimization and deletion of the putative ER-retrieval signal (four last amino acids: KTEL) improved CDNF secretion. More importantly, the secretion of KTEL-deleted CDNF remained constant in the non-dividing clones. Thus, cells expressing KTEL-deleted CDNF, in contrast to wtCDNF, can be considered for cell encapsulation applications if the KTEL-deleted CDNF is proven to be biologically active in vivo.
Keywords: CDNF; ER localization; cell encapsulation; codon optimization; secretion.