Effects of transgene expression level per cell in mice livers on induction of transgene-specific immune responses after hydrodynamic gene transfer

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We previously showed that high and sustained transgene expression of antigenic proteins induced transgene-specific immune responses. In the present study, a detailed relationship between the level of transgene expression per cell and immune response after hydrodynamic gene transfer was investigated. Cypridina luciferase (cLuc), a secretory antigenic reporter protein, was selected as a model antigen, and pROSA-cLuc, a plasmid expressing cLuc, was constructed. A fixed dose (30 μg) of pROSA-cLuc was delivered to mice by a single hydrodynamic injection or three injections at 24-h intervals because the number of cells transfected with plasmids is dependent on the number of hydrodynamic injections. Serum cLuc activity, an indicator of the total amount of cLuc transgene expression, was almost equal between these two groups. In contrast, the high-dose single injection induced higher levels of cLuc-specific humoral and cellular immune responses than the three low-dose injections. Moreover, the serum cLuc activity of the high-dose single injection group began to decline ˜ 10 days after injection, whereas the activity remained constant in the three low-dose injection group. These results indicate that it is preferable to reduce the level of transgene expression per cell to avoid induction of the transgene-specific immune response after hydrodynamic gene transfer.

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