Engineered DNA plasmid reduces immunity to dystrophin while improving muscle force in a model of gene therapy of Duchenne dystrophy. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Ho, P. P., Lahey, L. J., Mourkioti, F., Kraft, P. E., Filareto, A., Brandt, M., Magnusson, K. E., Finn, E. E., Chamberlain, J. S., Robinson, W. H., Blau, H. M., Steinman, L. 2018


In gene therapy for Duchenne muscular dystrophy there are two potential immunological obstacles. An individual with Duchenne muscular dystrophy has a genetic mutation in dystrophin, and therefore the wild-type protein is "foreign," and thus potentially immunogenic. The adeno-associated virus serotype-6 (AAV6) vector for delivery of dystrophin is a viral-derived vector with its own inherent immunogenicity. We have developed a technology where an engineered plasmid DNA is delivered to reduce autoimmunity. We have taken this approach into humans, tolerizing to myelin proteins in multiple sclerosis and to proinsulin in type 1 diabetes. Here, we extend this technology to a model of gene therapy to reduce the immunogenicity of the AAV vector and of the wild-type protein product that is missing in the genetic disease. Following gene therapy with systemic administration of recombinant AAV6-microdystrophin to mdx/mTRG2 mice, we demonstrated the development of antibodies targeting dystrophin and AAV6 capsid in control mice. Treatment with the engineered DNA construct encoding microdystrophin markedly reduced antibody responses to dystrophin and to AAV6. Muscle force in the treated mice was also improved compared with control mice. These data highlight the potential benefits of administration of an engineered DNA plasmid encoding the delivered protein to overcome critical barriers in gene therapy to achieve optimal functional gene expression.

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