Role of Regulatory T Cell and Effector T Cell Exhaustion in Liver-Mediated Transgene Tolerance in Muscle

Mol Ther Methods Clin Dev. 2019 Sep 3;15:83-100. doi: 10.1016/j.omtm.2019.08.012. eCollection 2019 Dec 13.


The pro-tolerogenic environment of the liver makes this tissue an ideal target for gene replacement strategies. In other peripheral tissues such as the skeletal muscle, anti-transgene immune response can result in partial or complete clearance of the transduced fibers. Here, we characterized liver-induced transgene tolerance after simultaneous transduction of liver and muscle. A clinically relevant transgene, α-sarcoglycan, mutated in limb-girdle muscular dystrophy type 2D, was fused with the SIINFEKL epitope (hSGCA-SIIN) and expressed with adeno-associated virus vectors (AAV-hSGCA-SIIN). Intramuscular delivery of AAV-hSGCA-SIIN resulted in a strong inflammatory response, which could be prevented and reversed by concomitant liver expression of the same antigen. Regulatory T cells and upregulation of checkpoint inhibitor receptors were required to establish and maintain liver-mediated peripheral tolerance. This study identifies the fundamental role of the synergy between Tregs and upregulation of checkpoint inhibitor receptors in the liver-mediated control of anti-transgene immunity triggered by muscle-directed gene transfer.

Keywords: AAV; LAG3; PD-1; Tregs; checkpoint inhibitors; gene transfer; liver; peripheral tolerance.