TRANSGENIC EXPRESSION OF HUMAN α1,2-FUCOSYLTRANSFERASE (H-TRANSFERASE) PROLONGS MOUSE HEART SURVIVAL IN AN EX VIVO MODEL OF XENOGRAFT REJECTION

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Abstract

Background.

The expression of human α1,2-fucosyltransferase(H-transferase, HT) has been proposed as an alternative strategy toα1,3-galactosyltransferase (GT) gene knockout, which is not currently feasible in pigs, to reduce the galactose-α1,3-galactose (Gal) epitope expression. HT expression has recently been shown in transgenic mice and pigs to significantly reduce Gal expression on a variety of cells; however, its ability to do so on endothelial cells and its effectiveness at prolonging xenograft survival are yet to be determined.

Methods.

HT-transgenic, Gal knockout (Gal KO) mice, and mice containing both genetic modifications (HT-transgenic/Gal KO) were tested for H-substance and Gal expression on splenocytes and endothelial cells by flow cytometric analysis. In addition, the hearts of these mice were perfused ex vivo with 6% human plasma, and the effect on cardiac function was determined.

Results and Conclusion.

H-substance expression was detected on both splenocytes and endothelial cells of HT-transgenic mice. The level of H-substance expression was not affected by the presence or absence of GT in the cells, consistent with HT being dominant over GT. The ability of HT expression to reduce Gal expression was highly variable depending on the cell type. Gal expression on splenocytes was almost completely eliminated, whereas on endothelial cells, substantial Gal remained despite a 70% reduction. When perfused ex vivo with human plasma, hearts from HT-transgenic, Gal KO, and HT-transgenic/Gal KO mice demonstrated a similar prolongation in survival, compared with wild-type controls. Therefore, as far as hyperacute rejection is concerned, HT expression may be as effective as Gal KO in protecting against xenoantibody and complement mediated injury. However, the effect of residual Gal on non-hyperacute rejection responses remains to be determined.

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