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      Activation of the Cellular Unfolded Protein Response by Recombinant Adeno-Associated Virus Vectors


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          The unfolded protein response (UPR) is a stress-induced cyto-protective mechanism elicited towards an influx of large amount of proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). In the present study, we evaluated if AAV manipulates the UPR pathways during its infection. We first examined the role of the three major UPR axes, namely, endoribonuclease inositol-requiring enzyme-1 ( IRE1α), activating transcription factor 6 ( ATF6) and PKR-like ER kinase ( PERK) in AAV infected cells. Total RNA from mock or AAV infected HeLa cells were used to determine the levels of 8 different ER-stress responsive transcripts from these pathways. We observed a significant up-regulation of IRE1α (up to 11 fold) and PERK (up to 8 fold) genes 12–48 hours after infection with self-complementary (sc)AAV2 but less prominent with single-stranded (ss)AAV2 vectors. Further studies demonstrated that scAAV1 and scAAV6 also induce cellular UPR in vitro, with AAV1 vectors activating the PERK pathway (3 fold) while AAV6 vectors induced a significant increase on all the three major UPR pathways [6–16 fold]. These data suggest that the type and strength of UPR activation is dependent on the viral capsid. We then examined if transient inhibition of UPR pathways by RNA interference has an effect on AAV transduction. siRNA mediated silencing of PERK and IRE1α had a modest effect on AAV2 and AAV6 mediated gene expression (∼1.5–2 fold) in vitro. Furthermore, hepatic gene transfer of scAAV2 vectors in vivo, strongly elevated IRE1α and PERK pathways (2 and 3.5 fold, respectively). However, when animals were pre-treated with a pharmacological UPR inhibitor (metformin) during scAAV2 gene transfer, the UPR signalling and its subsequent inflammatory response was attenuated concomitant to a modest 2.8 fold increase in transgene expression. Collectively, these data suggest that AAV vectors activate the cellular UPR pathways and their selective inhibition may be beneficial during AAV mediated gene transfer.

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          TLR activation of the transcription factor XBP1 regulates innate immune responses in macrophages.

          Sensors of pathogens, such as Toll-like receptors (TLRs), detect microbes to activate transcriptional programs that orchestrate adaptive responses to specific insults. Here we report that TLR4 and TLR2 specifically activated the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress sensor kinase IRE1alpha and its downstream target, the transcription factor XBP1. Previously described ER-stress target genes of XBP1 were not induced by TLR signaling. Instead, TLR-activated XBP1 was required for optimal and sustained production of proinflammatory cytokines in macrophages. Consistent with that finding, activation of IRE1alpha by ER stress acted in synergy with TLR activation for cytokine production. Moreover, XBP1 deficiency resulted in a much greater bacterial burden in mice infected with the TLR2-activating human intracellular pathogen Francisella tularensis. Our findings identify an unsuspected critical function for XBP1 in mammalian host defenses.
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            Membrane-associated heparan sulfate proteoglycan is a receptor for adeno-associated virus type 2 virions.

            The human parvovirus adeno-associated virus (AAV) infects a broad range of cell types, including human, nonhuman primate, canine, murine, and avian. Although little is known about the initial events of virus infection, AAV is currently being developed as a vector for human gene therapy. Using defined mutant CHO cell lines and standard biochemical assays, we demonstrate that heparan sulfate proteoglycans mediate both AAV attachment to and infection of target cells. Competition experiments using heparin, a soluble receptor analog, demonstrated dose-dependent inhibition of AAV attachment and infection. Enzymatic removal of heparan but not chondroitin sulfate moieties from the cell surface greatly reduced AAV attachment and infectivity. Finally, mutant cell lines that do not produce heparan sulfate proteoglycans were significantly impaired for both AAV binding and infection. This is the first report that proteoglycan has a role in cellular attachment of a parvovirus. Together, these results demonstrate that membrane-associated heparan sulfate proteoglycan serves as the viral receptor for AAV type 2, and provide an explanation for the broad host range of AAV. Identification of heparan sulfate proteoglycan as a viral receptor should facilitate development of new reagents for virus purification and provide critical information on the use of AAV as a gene therapy vector.
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              Gene Therapy for Leber's Congenital Amaurosis is Safe and Effective Through 1.5 Years After Vector Administration

              The safety and efficacy of gene therapy for inherited retinal diseases is being tested in humans affected with Leber's congenital amaurosis (LCA), an autosomal recessive blinding disease. Three independent studies have provided evidence that the subretinal administration of adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors encoding RPE65 in patients affected with LCA2 due to mutations in the RPE65 gene, is safe and, in some cases, results in efficacy. We evaluated the long-term safety and efficacy (global effects on retinal/visual function) resulting from subretinal administration of AAV2-hRPE65v2. Both the safety and the efficacy noted at early timepoints persist through at least 1.5 years after injection in the three LCA2 patients enrolled in the low dose cohort of our trial. A transient rise in neutralizing antibodies to AAV capsid was observed but there was no humoral response to RPE65 protein. The persistence of functional amelioration suggests that AAV-mediated gene transfer to the human retina does not elicit immunological responses which cause significant loss of transduced cells. The persistence of physiologic effect supports the possibility that gene therapy may influence LCA2 disease progression. The safety of the intervention and the stability of the improvement in visual and retinal function in these subjects support the use of AAV-mediated gene augmentation therapy for treatment of inherited retinal diseases.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                8 January 2013
                : 8
                : 1
                : e53845
                [1 ]Department of Hematology, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India
                [2 ]Centre for Stem Cell Research, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India
                University of Florida, United States of America
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: GRJ has received a peer-reviewed, competitive early career investigator grant -2010 from Bayer Inc, USA through their hemophilia awards program ( http://www.bayer-hemophilia-awards.com/index.html). No other competing financial interests exist. This does not alter the authors’ adherence to all the PLOS ONE policies on sharing data and materials.

                Conceived and designed the experiments: GRJ. Performed the experiments: BB DS SH VR SD. Analyzed the data: BB DS GRJ. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: AS. Wrote the paper: BB GRJ.


                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                : 3 August 2012
                : 5 December 2012
                Page count
                Pages: 12
                GRJ is supported by research grants from Department of Science of Technology, Government of India (Swarnajayanti Fellowship 2011), Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India (Innovative Young Biotechnologist award 2010: BT/03/IYBA/2010; Grant: BT/PR14748/MED/12/491/2010; Grant: BT/01/COE/08/03) and an early career investigator award-2010 from Bayer Hemophilia Awards program, Bayer Inc, USA. BB is supported by a junior research fellowship from University Grants Commission, New Delhi, India. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
                Research Article
                Host-Pathogen Interaction
                Vector Biology
                Model Organisms
                Animal Models
                Molecular Cell Biology
                Cellular Stress Responses



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