Spliceosome-mediated RNA trans-splicing (SMaRT) is an emerging technology for the repair of defective pre-messenger RNA (pre-mRNA) molecules. It is especially useful in the treatment of genetic disorders involving large genes. Although viral vectors have been used for achieving long-lasting expression of trans-splicing molecules, the immunogenicity and suboptimal safety profiles associated with viral-based components could limit the widespread application of SMaRT in the repair of genetic defects. Here, we tested whether the non-viral Sleeping Beauty (SB) transposon system could mediate stable delivery of trans-splicing molecules designed to correct the genetic defect responsible for severe combined immune deficiency (SCID). This immunological disorder is caused by a point mutation within the 12.4 kilobase (kb) gene encoding the DNA protein kinase catalytic subunit (DNA-PKcs) and is associated with aberrant DNA repair, defective T- and B-cell production, and hypersensitivity to radiation-induced injury. Using a novel SB-based trans-splicing vector, we demonstrate stable mRNA correction, proper DNA-PKcs protein production, and conference of a radiation-resistant phenotype in a T-cell thymoma cell line and SCID multipotent adult progenitor cells (MAPCs). These results suggest that SB-based trans-splicing vectors should prove useful in facilitating the correction of endogenous mutated mRNA transcripts, including the DNA-PKcs defect present in SCID cells.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by an NIH grant NIH R01 HL52952.