Preclinical modeling highlights the therapeutic potential of hematopoietic stem cell gene editing for correction of SCID-X1

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Abstract

Targeted genome editing in hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells (HSPCs) is an attractive strategy for treating immunohematological diseases. However, the limited efficiency of homology-directed editing in primitive HSPCs constrains the yield of corrected cells and might affect the feasibility and safety of clinical translation. These concerns need to be addressed in stringent preclinical models and overcome by developing more efficient editing methods. We generated a humanized X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID-X1) mouse model and evaluated the efficacy and safety of hematopoietic reconstitution from limited input of functional HSPCs, establishing thresholds for full correction upon different types of conditioning. Unexpectedly, conditioning before HSPC infusion was required to protect the mice from lymphoma developing when transplanting small numbers of progenitors. We then designed a one-size-fits-all IL2RG (interleukin-2 receptor common γ-chain) gene correction strategy and, using the same reagents suitable for correction of human HSPC, validated the edited human gene in the disease model in vivo, providing evidence of targeted gene editing in mouse HSPCs and demonstrating the functionality of the IL2RG-edited lymphoid progeny. Finally, we optimized editing reagents and protocol for human HSPCs and attained the threshold of IL2RG editing in long-term repopulating cells predicted to safely rescue the disease, using clinically relevant HSPC sources and highly specific zinc finger nucleases or CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)/Cas9 (CRISPR-associated protein 9). Overall, our work establishes the rationale and guiding principles for clinical translation of SCID-X1 gene editing and provides a framework for developing gene correction for other diseases.

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