Development of an enhanced B-specific lentiviral vector expressing BTK: a tool for gene therapy of XLA

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Further development of haematopoietic stem cell (HSC) gene therapy will depend on enhancement of gene transfer safety: ad hoc improvement of vector design relating to each particular disease is thus a crucial issue for HSC gene therapy. We modified a previously described lentiviral vector by adding the Eμmar B-specific enhancer to a human CD19 promoter-derived sequence (Mol Ther 2004; 10: 45-56). We thus significantly improved the level of expression of the green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporter gene while retaining the specificity of expression in B-cell progeny of transduced human CD34+ progenitor cells obtained from cord blood or adult bone marrow. Indeed, GFP was strongly expressed from early medullary pro-B cells to splenic mature B cells whereas transgene expression remained low in transduced immature progenitors as in myeloid and T-lymphoid progeny retrieved from xenografted NOD/SCID/γcnull mice. Using this lentiviral vector, we further demonstrated the possibility to express a functional human BTK protein in long-term human CD34+ cell B-lymphoid progeny. This newly designed lentiviral vector fulfils one of the pre-requisites for the development of efficient and safe gene therapy for X-linked agammaglobulinaemia, the most common primary humoral immunodeficiency disorder.

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