The recombinant adeno-associated virus vector (rAAV2)-mediated apolipoprotein B mRNA-specific hammerhead ribozyme: a self-complementary AAV2 vector improves the gene expression.

Publication Date



Genet Vaccines Ther. 2004; 2: 5. Published online 2004 June 11. doi: 10.1186/1479-0556-2-5.


BACKGROUND: In humans, overproduction of apolipoprotein B (apoB) is positively associated with premature coronary artery diseases. To reduce the levels of apoB mRNA, we have designed an apoB mRNA-specific hammerhead ribozyme targeted at nucleotide sequences GUA6679 (RB15) mediated by adenovirus, which efficiently cleaves and decreases apoB mRNA by 80% in mouse liver and attenuates the hyperlipidemic condition. In the current study, we used an adeno-associated virus vector, serotype 2 (AAV2) and a self-complementary AAV2 vector (scAAV2) to demonstrate the effect of long-term tissue-specific gene expression of RB15 on the regulation apoB mRNA in vivo. METHODS: We constructed a hammerhead ribozyme RB15 driven by a liver-specific transthyretin (TTR) promoter using an AAV2 vector (rAAV2-TTR-RB15). HepG2 cells and hyperlipidemic mice deficient in both the low density lipoprotein receptor and the apoB mRNA editing enzyme genes (LDLR-/-Apobec1-/-; LDb) were transduced with rAAV2-TTR-RB15 and a control vector rAAV-TTR-RB15-mutant (inactive ribozyme). The effects of ribozyme RB15 on apoB metabolism and atherosclerosis development were determined in LDb mice at 5-month after transduction. A self-complementary AAV2 vector expressing ribozyme RB15 (scAAV2-TTR-RB15) was also engineered and used to transduce HepG2 cells. Studies were designed to compare the gene expression efficiency between rAAV2-TTR-RB15 and scAAV2-TTR-RB15. RESULTS: The effect of ribozyme RB15 RNA on reducing apoB mRNA levels in HepG2 cells was observed only on day-7 after rAAV2-TTR-RB15 transduction. And, at 5-month after rAAV2-TTR-RB15 treatment, the apoB mRNA levels in LDb mice were significantly decreased by 43%, compared to LDb mice treated with control vector rAAV2-TTR-RB15-mutant. Moreover, both the rAAV2-TTR-RB15 viral DNA and ribozyme RB15 RNA were still detectable in mice livers at 5-month after treatment. However, this rAAV2-TTR-RB15 vector mediated a prolonged but low level of ribozyme RB15 gene expression in the mice livers, which did not produce the therapeutic effects on alteration the lipid levels or the inhibition of atherosclerosis development. In contrast, the ribozyme RB15 RNA mediated by scAAV2-TTR-RB15 vector was expressed immediately at day-1 after transduction in HepG2 cells. The apoB mRNA levels were decreased 47% (p = 0.001), compared to the control vector scAAV2-TTR-RB15-mutant. CONCLUSION: This study provided evidence that the rAAV2 single-strand vector mediated a prolonged but not efficient transduction in mouse liver. However, the scAAV2 double-strand vector mediated a rapid and efficient gene expression in liver cells. This strategy using scAAV2 vectors represents a better approach to express small molecules such as ribozyme.