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    Sickle cell disease results from a point mutation in exon 1 of the β-globin gene (total 3 exons). Replacing sickle β-globin exon 1 (and exon 2) with a normal sequence by trans-splicing is a potential therapeutic strategy. Therefore, this study sought to develop trans-splicing targeting β-globin pre-messenger RNA among human erythroid cells. Binding domains from random β-globin sequences were comprehensively screened. Six candidates had optimal binding, and all targeted intron 2. Next, lentiviral vectors encoding RNA trans-splicing molecules were constructed incorporating a unique binding domain from these candidates, artificial 5' splice site, and γ-globin cDNA, and trans-splicing was evaluated in CD34+ cell-derived erythroid cells from healthy individuals. Lentiviral transduction was efficient, with vector copy numbers of 9.7 to 15.3. The intended trans-spliced RNA product, including exon 3 of endogenous β-globin and γ-globin, was detected at the molecular level. Trans-splicing efficiency was improved to 0.07-0.09% by longer binding domains, including the 5' splice site of intron 2. In summary, screening was performed to select efficient binding domains for trans-splicing. Detectable levels of trans-splicing were obtained for endogenous β-globin RNA in human erythroid cells. These methods provide the basis for future trans-splicing directed gene therapy.


    Naoya Uchida, Kareem N Washington, Brian Mozer, Charlotte Platner, Josiah Ballantine, Luke P Skala, Lydia Raines, Anna Shvygin, Matthew M Hsieh, Lloyd G Mitchell, John F Tisdale. RNA Trans-Splicing Targeting Endogenous β-Globin Pre-Messenger RNA in Human Erythroid Cells. Human gene therapy methods. 2017 Apr;28(2):91-99

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    PMID: 28267358

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