Nonviral ex vivo local gene therapy systems consisting of regulated gene expression vectors and cellular delivery platforms represent a novel strategy for tissue repair and regeneration. We introduced a hypoxia-regulated plasmid-based system into mouse neural stem cells (NSCs) as an efficient gene expression and delivery platform for rapid, robust and persistent hypoxic/ischemic-regulated gene expression in the spinal cord.Methods: A synthetic hypoxia-responsive erythropoietin (Epo) enhancer, the SV40 minimal promoter and the luciferase (Luc) reporter gene were incorporated in a DsRed-expressing double-promoter plasmid for cell lipofection and Zeocin-selection to establish a hypoxia-regulated stable NSC line (NSC-Epo-SV-Luc). A nonhypoxia-regulated stable NSC line (NSC-SV-Luc) was also established as a control.Results: Under the transcriptional regulation of the Epo enhancer, in vitro luciferase expression in NSC-Epo-SV-Luc, but not in NSC-SV-Luc, was sensitively augmented according to the strength and duration of the hypoxic stimulus and was quickly down-regulated to a low basal level after reoxygenation of the hypoxic cells. Furthermore, deoxygenation of the reoxygenated cells clearly enhanced the luciferase activity again. After transplantation into a rat spinal cord injury (SCI) model, only NSC-Epo-SV-Luc showed ischemic injury-specific luciferase expression Notably, the engineered NSC lines kept the neural differentiation potential and retained the hypoxia-regulated luciferase expression after differentiation.Conclusions: We propose that NSCs engineered with the Epo-SV-therapeutic gene will be valuable for developing a controllable stem cell-mediated nonviral gene therapy for SCI or other central nervous system diseases accompanied with chronic or episodic hypoxic/ischemic stresses.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Medicine
- Molecular Biology
- Drug Discovery