Viral transduction of primary Schwann cells using a Cre-lox system to regulate GDNF expression

Yuewei Wu-Fienberg, Amy M. Moore, Laura M. Marquardt, Piyaraj Newton, Philip J. Johnson, Susan E. Mackinnon, Shelly E. Sakiyama-Elbert, Matthew D. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Glial cell-line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) is a potent neurotrophic factor known to enhance motor nerve regeneration following its delivery. However, recent studies have determined that extended GDNF delivery to regenerating axons can entrap motor axons at the site of GDNF delivery. This entrapment leads to reduced motor axons available to reinnervate muscle. To address this issue, we designed a cell-based GDNF expression system that can temporally regulate protein expression using an inducible gene excision mechanism to prevent entrapment at the site of expression. To design this system for regulation of GDNF expression, we transduced two lentiviral vectors, one containing a constitutively active GDNF transgene flanked by two loxP sites, and the other containing a tetracycline-inducible cre transgene along with its constitutively active transactivator, into Schwann cells (SCs). These SCs over-express GDNF, but expression can be suppressed through the administration of tetracycline family antibiotics, such as doxycycline. The engineered SCs produced significantly more GDNF as compared to untransduced controls, as measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Following doxycycline treatment, these SCs produced significantly lower levels of GDNF and induced less neurite extension as compared to untreated SCs. Engineered SCs treated with doxycycline showed a marked increase in Cre recombinase expression, as visualized by immunohistochemistry (IHC), providing evidence of a mechanism for the observed changes in GDNF expression levels and biological activity. This cell-based GDNF expression system could have potential for future in vivo studies to provide a temporally controlled GDNF source to promote axon growth. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2014;111: 1886-1894.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1886-1894
Number of pages9
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2014


  • Candy-store effect
  • Cre-lox
  • Drug delivery
  • Glial cell line derived neurotrophic factor
  • Lentivirus
  • Peripheral nerve


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