Jin C, Fotaki G, Ramachandran M, Nilsson B, Essand M, Yu D
EMBO Mol Med 8 (7) 702-711 [2016-07-00; online 2016-07-01]
Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy is a new successful treatment for refractory B-cell leukemia. Successful therapeutic outcome depends on long-term expression of CAR transgene in T cells, which is achieved by delivering transgene using integrating gamma retrovirus (RV) or lentivirus (LV). However, uncontrolled RV/LV integration in host cell genomes has the potential risk of causing insertional mutagenesis. Herein, we describe a novel episomal long-term cell engineering method using non-integrating lentiviral (NILV) vector containing a scaffold/matrix attachment region (S/MAR) element, for either expression of transgenes or silencing of target genes. The insertional events of this vector into the genome of host cells are below detection level. CD19 CAR T cells engineered with a NILV-S/MAR vector have similar levels of CAR expression as T cells engineered with an integrating LV vector, even after numerous rounds of cell division. NILV-S/MAR-engineered CD19 CAR T cells exhibited similar cytotoxic capacity upon CD19(+) target cell recognition as LV-engineered T cells and are as effective in controlling tumor growth in vivo We propose that NILV-S/MAR vectors are superior to current options as they enable long-term transgene expression without the risk of insertional mutagenesis and genotoxicity.