The ability to transfer immunoregulatory, cytoprotective, or antiapoptotic genes into pancreatic islets (PIs) may allow enhanced post-transplantation survival. The available gene transfer vectors differ greatly in their ability to infect and express genes in different cell types. One limitation associated with the use of viral vectors is related to the virus reliance on the presence of its primary binding site. Tropism of the viral vectors can be altered using retargeting strategies. Results on phage biopanning proved that the RGD motif has in vivo targeting capabilities. This motif interacts especially with cellular integrins of the αVβ3 and αVβ5 types, highly expressed on pancreatic islets. In this report, we have explored the utility of a retargeted adenovirus vector (Ad) containing an RGD motif in the HI loop of the fiber knob in order to improve the infection efficiency to intact isolated nonhuman primate Pis and reduce toxicity after the genetic modification. Nonhuman primate PIs were isolated by a semi-automated technique. Steptozotocin-induced diabetic mice with severe combined immunodeficiency disease (SCID) were used as recipients. A recombinant Ad containing a heterologous RGD peptide and expressing luciferase (AdRGDLuc) or green fluorescent protein (AdRGDGFP) were generated in our laboratory. Similar Ads without the RGD peptide were used as a control (AdLuc and AdGFP). Higher transfection efficiency was demonstrated using AdRGDGFP compared with AdGFP (>80% of the islet cells were infected at 10 particleforming units (pfu)/cell using AdRGDGFP vs. 7% after infection with AdGFP). More than 90% of the infected cells were insulin-producing cells. Significantly higher transgene expression was demonstrated after infection with AdRGDLuc compared with AdLuc at different titers. Analysis of the glucose-stimulated insulin response demonstrated better performance of PI transfected with AdRGDLuc at low titers (10 pfu/cell in order to achieve > 80% transfection efficiency) compared with AdLuc at high titers. Finally, long-term euglycemia (>250d) was observed in 89% of the animals that received PI infected with AdRGDLuc compared with none of the animals that received PI infected with AdLuc. The present study provides new information about the possibility of tropism modification of Ad vectors to increase the transfection efficiency and transgene expression to isolated PI. Incorporation of the RGD sequence in the HI loop of the fiber knob allows highly efficient transfection efficiency to nonhuman primate insulin-producing cells and adequate long-term function of the β-cell after transplantation.
- Gene therapy
- Non-human primates