Real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction to assess gene transfer

Kathryn Becker, Dao Pan, Chester B. Whitley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Accurate quantification of gene transfer (or gene correction) is a universal challenge in the field of gene therapy. In developing a clinical trial of lymphocyte gene therapy for Hunter syndrome (mucopolysaccharidosis type II), methods using Southern blot or automated DNA sequencing technology were employed, but found to be laborious and subject to considerable variation. As an alternative approach, we explored a real-time kinetic PCR assay appropriate to new instrumentation (PE Biosystems model 7700). A TaqMan probe was designed to hybridize directly across the exon 2-exon 3 junction of the iduronate-2-sulfatase transgene cDNA. In this assay system, cDNA from the retroviral vector L2SN generates a PCR product that is 84 nucleotides long and readily quantified by TaqMan probe binding and subsequent cleavage. Evaluation of this method demonstrated sensitivity over at least 5 logs with respect to the standard (vector plasmid pL2SN). There was no detectable signal from genomic DNA from nontransduced cells, thus indicating the specificity of this assay. The sample preparation method used to prepare specimens was a relatively simple cell lysis procedure, without DNA extraction, and represents a significant advancement over the more complex methods of DNA extraction that are typically used for such assays. This specific assay, and comparison to previous methods, illustrates the utility of a new method that is readily generalized to many gene therapy studies, and that has the potential to be extended to measure gene expression by means of quantitative RT-PCR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2559-2566
Number of pages8
JournalHuman gene therapy
Issue number15
StatePublished - Oct 10 1999


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