Correction of uroporphyrinogen decarboxylase deficiency (hepatoerythropoietic porphyria) in Epstein-Barr virus-transformed B-cell lines by retrovirus-mediated gene transfer: fluorescence-based selection of transduced cells.Blood. 1999 Jul 15; 94(2):465-74.Blood
Hepatoerythropoietic porphyria (HEP) is an inherited metabolic disorder characterized by the accumulation of porphyrins resulting from a deficiency in uroporphyrinogen decarboxylase (UROD). This autosomal recessive disorder is severe, starting early in infancy with no specific treatment. Gene therapy would represent a great therapeutic improvement. Because hematopoietic cells are the target for somatic gene therapy in this porphyria, Epstein-Barr virus-transformed B-cell lines from patients with HEP provide a model system for the disease. Thus, retrovirus-mediated expression of UROD was used to restore enzymatic activity in B-cell lines from 3 HEP patients. The potential of gene therapy for the metabolic correction of the disease was demonstrated by a reduction of porphyrin accumulation to the normal level in deficient transduced cells. Mixed culture experiments demonstrated that there is no metabolic cross-correction of deficient cells by normal cells. However, the observation of cellular expansion in vitro and in vivo in immunodeficient mice suggested that genetically corrected cells have a competitive advantage. Finally, to facilitate future human gene therapy trials, we have developed a selection system based on the expression of the therapeutic gene. Genetically corrected cells are easily separated from deficient ones by the absence of fluorescence when illuminated under UV light.