Expression of CFTR from a ciliated cell-specific promoter is ineffective at correcting nasal potential difference in CF mice.Gene Ther 2007; 14(20):1492-501GT
Successful gene therapy will require that the therapeutic gene be expressed at a sufficient level in the correct cell type(s). To improve the specificity of gene transfer for cystic fibrosis (CF) and other airway diseases, we have begun to develop cell-type specific promoters to target the expression of transgenes to specific airway cell types. Using a FOXJ1 promoter construct previously shown to direct transgene expression specifically to ciliated cells, we have generated transgenic mice expressing human cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) in the murine tracheal and nasal epithelia. RNA analysis demonstrated levels of CFTR expression is greater than or equal to the level of endogenous mouse CFTR. Immunoprecipitation and western blotting demonstrated the production of human CFTR protein, and immunochemistry confirmed that CFTR was expressed in the apical region of ciliated cells. The transgenic animals were bred to CFTR null mice (Cftr(tm1Unc)) to determine if expression of CFTR from the FOXJ1 promoter is capable of correcting the airway defects in Cl(-) secretion and Na(+) absorption that accompany CF. Isolated trachea from neonatal CF mice expressing the FOXJ1/CFTR transgene demonstrated a correction of forskolin-stimulated Cl(-) secretion. However, expression of human CFTR in ciliated cells of the nasal epithelia failed to significantly change the nasal bioelectrics of the CF mice.