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Muscle-specific enhancement of gene expression by incorporation of SV40 enhancer in the expression plasmid


Skeletal muscle is established as an ideal tissue for gene delivery to treat systemic diseases. However, the relatively low levels of gene expression obtained from using naturally occurring promoters, including the strong cytomegalovirus (CMV) enhancer/promoter (E/P), have limited the use of muscle as a target tissue. The relatively weak simian virus 40 (SV40) enhancer is known to have dual functions promoting localization of DNA to the nucleus and activating transcription. An SV40 enhancer incorporated either at the 5′ end of CMV E/P or the 3′ end of the polyadenylation site gave as much as a 20-fold increase in the level of exogenous gene expression in muscle in vivo, compared with expression observed with CMV E/P alone. The minimum requirement for this enhancement is a single copy of a 72-bp element of the SV40 enhancer, in combination with either the CMV E/P or skeletal actin (SkA) promoter. Enhancement of gene expression in muscle by this SV40 enhancer was also observed by using the powerful electroporation delivery. However, the SV40 enhancer does not increase the level of CMV E/P driven reporter gene expression in dividing tumor cells in vivo and in the dividing myoblast cell C2C12 in vitro. The data suggest that including this enhancer in the plasmid will enhance the level of gene production for muscle-based gene therapy.

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Li, S., MacLaughlin, F., Fewell, J. et al. Muscle-specific enhancement of gene expression by incorporation of SV40 enhancer in the expression plasmid. Gene Ther 8, 494–497 (2001).

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