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CRISPR/Cas9-mediated reversibly immortalized mouse bone marrow stromal stem cells (BMSCs) retain multipotent features of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs).

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are multipotent non-hematopoietic progenitor cells that can undergo self-renewal and differentiate into multi-lineages. Bone marrow stromal stem cells (BMSCs) represent one of the most commonly-used MSCs. In order to overcome the technical challenge of maintaining primary BMSCs in long-term culture, here we seek to establish reversibly immortalized mouse BMSCs (imBMSCs). By exploiting CRISPR/Cas9-based homology-directed-repair (HDR) mechanism, we target SV40T to mouse Rosa26 locus and efficiently immortalize mouse BMSCs (i.e., imBMSCs). We also immortalize BMSCs with retroviral vector SSR #41 and establish imBMSC41 as a control line. Both imBMSCs and imBMSC41 exhibit long-term proliferative capability although imBMSC41 cells have a higher proliferation rate. SV40T mRNA expression is 130% higher in imBMSC41 than that in imBMSCs. However, FLP expression leads to 86% reduction of SV40T expression in imBMSCs, compared with 63% in imBMSC41 cells. Quantitative genomic PCR analysis indicates that the average copy number of SV40T and hygromycin is 1.05 for imBMSCs and 2.07 for imBMSC41, respectively. Moreover, FLP expression removes 92% of SV40T in imBMSCs at the genome DNA level, compared with 58% of that in imBMSC41 cells, indicating CRISPR/Cas9 HDR-mediated immortalization of BMSCs can be more effectively reversed than that of retrovirus-mediated random integrations. Nonetheless, both imBMSCs and imBMSC41 lines express MSC markers and are highly responsive to BMP9-induced osteogenic, chondrogenic and adipogenic differentiation in vitro and in vivo. Thus, the engineered imBMSCs can be used as a promising alternative source of primary MSCs for basic and translational research in the fields of MSC biology and regenerative medicine.

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129 Mouse Embryonic Stem Rat Mesenchymal Stem Cell Macrophage Colony Stimula Macrophage Colony Stimula Stemez hN2 Human Neuron D Mouse Stem Cell Factor SC Rat Mesenchymal Cells Rat Mesenchymal Stem Cell Mesenchymal Stem Cell Adi Mesenchymal Stem Cell Ost Mouse Brain Microvascular GFP Expressing Mouse Brai

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A Retroviral Replicating Vector Encoding Cytosine Deaminase and 5-FC Induces Immune Memory in Metastatic Colorectal Cancer Models.

Treatment of tumors with Toca 511, a gamma retroviral replicating vector encoding cytosine deaminase, followed by 5-fluorocytosine (5-FC) kills tumors by local production of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU). In brain tumor models, this treatment induces systemic anti-tumor immune responses and long-term immune-mediated survival. Phase 1 Toca 511 and Toca FC (extended-release 5-FC) clinical trials in patients with recurrent high-grade glioma show durable complete responses and promising survival data compared to historic controls. The work described herein served to expand on our earlier findings in two models of metastatic colorectal carcinoma (mCRC). Intravenous (i.v.) delivery of Toca 511 resulted in substantial tumor-selective uptake of vector into metastatic lesions. Subsequent treatment with 5-FC resulted in tumor shrinkage, improved survival, and immune memory against future rechallenge with the same CT26 CRC cell line. Similar results were seen in a brain metastasis model of mCRC. Of note, 5-FC treatment resulted in a significant decrease in myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) in mCRC tumors in both the liver and brain. These results support the development of Toca 511 and Toca FC as a novel immunotherapeutic approach for patients with mCRC. A phase 1 study of i.v. Toca 511 and Toca FC in solid tumors, including mCRC, is currently underway (NCT02576665).

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Effect of shRNA Mediated Silencing of YB-1 Protein on the Expression of Matrix Collagenases in Malignant Melanoma Cell In Vitro.

Background and Objective: YB-1 is a transcription and oncogenic factor capable of binding to DNA and RNA performing versatile functions within normal and cancer cells. Some studies reported the binding of YB-1 with a collagenases gene promoter and influencing their expression. In addition, the role of YB-1 in malignant melanoma was not elucidated. Thus, in this study, the aim was to knock down the expression of YB-1 in A375 malignant melanoma cancer cell using the shRNA approach and study its effect on cancer cell proliferation, migration, and expression of collagenases. Methods: A375 malignant melanoma cell lines were grown in standard conditions and were transfected with three plasmids containing a retroviral pGFP-V-RS vector, two of them containing targeting sequences for YB-1 mRNA. The third plasmid contained a scrambled mRNA sequence as a negative control. Expression of YB-1 was validated using immune-fluorescence staining, RT-PCR and western blotting. The cancer cell proliferation was determined using MTT assay, serial trypan blue cell counting and cell cycle flow-cytometry analysis. Expression of collagenases (MMP1, MMP8, and MMP13) was evaluated using RT-PCR and western blotting analysis. In addition, a wound-healing assay was used to assess cell migration potential. Statistical analysis was performed using one-way ANOVA test with Bonferroni post hoc analysis to compare the quantitative results among samples. Results: The established silenced cell strains (P1 and P2) had nearly 70% knockdown in the expression of YB-1. These YB-1 silenced strains had a significant cell cycle-specific reduction in cell proliferation (p < 0.05 in serial cell counting and cell cycle flow cytometry analysis, p < 0.001 in MTT assay). In addition, YB-1 silenced strains had a remarkable reduction in cell migration potential. Expression of MMP13 was significantly reduced in YB-1 silenced strains. Conclusion: YB-1 oncoprotein is a promising target in the treatment of malignant melanoma. Silencing of this protein is associated with significant anti-proliferative, anti-invasive and MMP13 insulating properties in A375 malignant melanoma cancer cell lines.

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T-cell responses to KSHV infection: a systematic approach.

Prior studies of T-cell responses to KSHV have included relatively few participants and focused on relatively few KSHV antigens. To provide a more comprehensive analysis, we investigated T-cell responses to the whole KSHV proteome using IFN-γ ELISpot. Using ∼7,500 overlapping 15mer peptides we generated one to three peptide pools for each of the 82 KSHV ORFs. IFN-γ ELISpot analysis of PBMCs from 19 patients with a history of KSHV-associated disease and 24 healthy donors (11 KSHV seropositive) detected widely varied responses. Fifty six of the 82 ORFs were recognized by at least one individual but there was little overlap between participants. Responses to at least one ORF pool were observed in all 19 patients and in 7 seropositive donors. Four seropositive donors and 10 seronegative donors had no detectable responses while 3 seronegative donors had weak responses to one ORF. Patients recognised more ORFs than the donors (p=0.04) but the response intensity (spot forming units: SFU per million cells) was similar in the two groups. In four of the responding donors, individual peptides eliciting the predominant responses were identified: three donors responded to only one peptide per ORF, while one recognized five. Using intracellular cytokine staining in four participant samples, we detected peptide-induced IFN-γ, MIP1-β, and TNF-α as well as CD107a degranulation, consistent with multifunctional effector responses in CD8+ and CD4+ T cells. Sequence analysis of TCRs present in peptide specific T-cell clones generated from two participants showed both mono- and multi-clonotypic responses. Finally, we molecularly cloned the KSHV specific TCRs and incorporated the sequences into retroviral vectors to transfer the specificities to fresh donor cells for additional studies. This study suggests that KSHV infected individuals respond to diverse KSHV antigens, consistent with a lack of shared immunodominance and establishes useful tools to facilitate KSHV immunology studies.

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Production of GP64-free virus-like particles from baculovirus-infected insect cells.

The retroviral Gag protein is frequently used to generate 'virus-like particles' (VLPs) for a variety of applications. Retroviral Gag proteins self-assemble and bud at the plasma membrane to form enveloped VLPs that resemble natural retrovirus virions, but contain no viral genome. The baculovirus expression vector system has been used to express high levels of the retroviral Gag protein to produce VLPs. However, VLP preparations produced from baculovirus-infected insect cells typically contain relatively large concentrations of baculovirus budded virus (BV) particles, which are similar in size and density to VLPs, and thus may be difficult to separate when purifying VLPs. Additionally, these enveloped VLPs may have substantial quantities of the baculovirus-encoded GP64 envelope protein in the VLP envelope. Since VLPs are frequently produced for vaccine development, the presence of the GP64 envelope protein in VLPs, and the presence of Autographa californica multicapsid nucleopolyhedrovirus BVs in VLP preparations, is undesirable. In the current studies, we developed a strategy for reducing BVs and eliminating GP64 in the production of VLPs, by expressing the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 gag gene in the absence of the baculovirus gp64 gene. Using a GP64null recombinant baculovirus, we demonstrate Gag-mediated VLP production and an absence of GP64 in VLPs, in the context of reduced BV production. Thus, this approach represents a substantially improved method for producing VLPs in insect cells.

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Accumulation of long-term transcriptionally active integrated retroviral vectors in active promoters and enhancers.

Most retroviruses preferentially integrate into certain genomic locations and, as a result, their genome-wide integration patterns are non-random. We investigate the epigenetic landscape of integrated retroviral vectors and correlate it with the long-term stability of proviral transcription. Retroviral vectors derived from the avian sarcoma/leukosis virus expressing the GFP reporter were used to transduce the human myeloid lymphoblastoma cell line K562. Because of efficient silencing of avian retrovirus in mammalian cells, only ∼3% of established clones displayed stable proviral expression. We analyzed the vector integration sites in non-selected cells and in clones selected for the GFP expression. This selection led to overrepresentation of proviruses integrated in active transcription units, with particular accumulation in promoter-proximal areas. In parallel, we investigated the integration of vectors equipped with an anti-silencing CpG island core sequence. Such modification increased the frequency of stably expressing proviruses by one order. The modified vectors are also overrepresented in active transcription units, but stably expressed in distal parts of transcriptional units further away from promoters with marked accumulation in enhancers. These results suggest that integrated retroviruses subject to gradual epigenetic silencing during long-term cultivation. Among most genomic compartments, however, active promoters and enhancers protect the adjacent retroviruses from transcriptional silencing.

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Transmission, Evolution, and Endogenization: Lessons Learned from Recent Retroviral Invasions.

Viruses of the subfamily Orthoretrovirinae are defined by the ability to reverse transcribe an RNA genome into DNA that integrates into the host cell genome during the intracellular virus life cycle. Exogenous retroviruses (XRVs) are horizontally transmitted between host individuals, with disease outcome depending on interactions between the retrovirus and the host organism. When retroviruses infect germ line cells of the host, they may become endogenous retroviruses (ERVs), which are permanent elements in the host germ line that are subject to vertical transmission. These ERVs sometimes remain infectious and can themselves give rise to XRVs. This review integrates recent developments in the phylogenetic classification of retroviruses and the identification of retroviral receptors to elucidate the origins and evolution of XRVs and ERVs. We consider whether ERVs may recurrently pressure XRVs to shift receptor usage to sidestep ERV interference. We discuss how related retroviruses undergo alternative fates in different host lineages after endogenization, with koala retrovirus (KoRV) receiving notable interest as a recent invader of its host germ line. KoRV is heritable but also infectious, which provides insights into the early stages of germ line invasions as well as XRV generation from ERVs. The relationship of KoRV to primate and other retroviruses is placed in the context of host biogeography and the potential role of bats and rodents as vectors for interspecies viral transmission. Combining studies of extant XRVs and "fossil" endogenous retroviruses in koalas and other Australasian species has broadened our understanding of the evolution of retroviruses and host-retrovirus interactions.

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Host factors that promote retrotransposon integration are similar in distantly related eukaryotes.

Retroviruses and Long Terminal Repeat (LTR)-retrotransposons have distinct patterns of integration sites. The oncogenic potential of retrovirus-based vectors used in gene therapy is dependent on the selection of integration sites associated with promoters. The LTR-retrotransposon Tf1 of Schizosaccharomyces pombe is studied as a model for oncogenic retroviruses because it integrates into the promoters of stress response genes. Although integrases (INs) encoded by retroviruses and LTR-retrotransposons are responsible for catalyzing the insertion of cDNA into the host genome, it is thought that distinct host factors are required for the efficiency and specificity of integration. We tested this hypothesis with a genome-wide screen of host factors that promote Tf1 integration. By combining an assay for transposition with a genetic assay that measures cDNA recombination we could identify factors that contribute differentially to integration. We utilized this assay to test a collection of 3,004 S. pombe strains with single gene deletions. Using these screens and immunoblot measures of Tf1 proteins, we identified a total of 61 genes that promote integration. The candidate integration factors participate in a range of processes including nuclear transport, transcription, mRNA processing, vesicle transport, chromatin structure and DNA repair. Two candidates, Rhp18 and the NineTeen complex were tested in two-hybrid assays and were found to interact with Tf1 IN. Surprisingly, a number of pathways we identified were found previously to promote integration of the LTR-retrotransposons Ty1 and Ty3 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, indicating the contribution of host factors to integration are common in distantly related organisms. The DNA repair factors are of particular interest because they may identify the pathways that repair the single stranded gaps flanking the sites of strand transfer following integration of LTR retroelements.

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Establishment of integration-free induced pluripotent stem cells from human recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa keratinocytes.

Induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology enables patient-specific pluripotent stem cells to be derived from adult somatic cells without the use of an embryonic cell source. To date, recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (RDEB)-specific iPSCs have been generated from patients using integrating retroviral vectors. However, vector integration into the host genome can endanger the biosafety and differentiation propensities of iPSCs. Although various integration-free reprogramming systems have been reported, their utility in reprogramming somatic cells from patients remains largely undetermined.

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Efficient Therapeutic Protein Expression Using Retroviral Replicating Vector with 2A Peptide in Cancer Models.

Toca 511, a retroviral replicating vector (RRV), uses an internal ribosomal entry site (IRES) to express an optimized yeast cytosine deaminase (yCD2), which converts 5-fluorocytosine to 5-fluorouracil. This configuration is genetically stable in both preclinical mouse models and human clinical trials. However, the use of IRES (~ 600 bp) restricts choices of therapeutic transgenes due to limits in RRV genome size. In this study, we replaced IRES with 2A peptides derived from picornaviruses with or without a GSG linker. Our data showed that GSG-linked 2A (g2A) peptide resulted in higher polyprotein separation efficiency than non-GSG linked 2A peptide. We also showed that RRV can tolerate insertion of two separate 2A peptides to allow expression of two transgenes without compromising the assembly and function of the virus in addition to insertion of a single 2A peptide to confirm genetic stability with yCD2, green fluorescent protein, and HSV-1 thymidine kinase. In a parallel comparison of the RRV-IRES-yCD2 and RRV-g2A-yCD2 configurations, we showed the yCD2 protein expressed from RRV-g2A-yCD2 has higher activity resulting in a higher survival benefit in an intracranial tumor mouse model. These data enable a wider range of potential product candidates that could be developed using the RRV platform.

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