3 years ago

Incorporation of aptamers in the terminal loop of shRNAs yields an effective and novel combinatorial targeting strategy.

Daniela Castanotto, Haitang Li, Ka Ming Pang, John J Rossi, Lisa Scherer
Gene therapy by engineering patient's own blood cells to confer HIV resistance can potentially lead to a functional cure for AIDS. Toward this goal, we have previously developed an anti-HIV lentivirus vector that deploys a combination of shRNA, ribozyme and RNA decoy. To further improve this therapeutic vector against viral escape, we sought an additional reagent to target HIV integrase. Here, we report the development of a new strategy for selection and expression of aptamer for gene therapy. We developed a SELEX protocol (multi-tag SELEX) for selecting RNA aptamers against proteins with low solubility or stability, such as integrase. More importantly, we expressed these aptamers in vivo by incorporating them in the terminal loop of shRNAs. This novel strategy allowed efficient expression of the shRNA-aptamer fusions that targeted RNAs and proteins simultaneously. Expressed shRNA-aptamer fusions targeting HIV integrase or reverse transcriptase inhibited HIV replication in cell cultures. Viral inhibition was further enhanced by combining an anti-integrase aptamer with an anti-HIV Tat-Rev shRNA. This construct exhibited efficacy comparable to that of integrase inhibitor Raltegravir. Our strategy for the selection and expression of RNA aptamers can potentially extend to other gene therapy applications.

Publisher URL: http://doi.org/10.1093/nar/gkx980

DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkx980

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