The Sleeping Beauty transposon system, a non-viral, integrating vector that can deliver the alpha-L-iduronidase-encoding gene, is efficient in correcting mucopolysaccharidosis type I in NOD/SCID mice. However, in previous studies we failed to attain reliable long-term alpha-L-iduronidase expression in immunocompetent mice. Here, we focused on achieving sustained high-level expression in immunocompetent C57BL/6 mice. In our standard liver-directed treatment we hydrodynamically infuse mice with plasmids containing a SB transposon-encoding human alpha-L-iduronidase, along with a source of SB transposase. We sought to 1) minimize expression of the therapeutic enzyme in antigen-presenting cells, while avoiding promoter shutdown and gender bias, 2) increase transposition efficiency and 3) improve immunosuppression. By using a liver-specific promoter to drive IDUA expression, the SB100X hyperactive transposase and transient cyclophosphamide immunosuppression we achieved therapeutic-level (≥100 wild-type) stabilized expression for 1 year in 50% of C57BL/6 mice. To gain insights into the causes of variability in transgene expression, we quantified the rates of alpha-L-iduronidase activity decay vis-a-vis transposition and transgene maintenance using the data obtained in this and previous studies. Our analyses showed that immune responses are the most important variable to control in order to prevent loss of transgene expression. Cumulatively, our results allow transition to pre-clinical studies of SB-mediated alpha-L-iduronidase expression and correction of mucopolysaccharidosis type I in animal models.
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