Vector Insert-Targeted Integrative Antisense Expression System for Plasmid Stabilization
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- Luke, J.M., Carnes, A.E., Hodgson, C.P. et al. Mol Biotechnol (2011) 47: 43. doi:10.1007/s12033-010-9310-5
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Some DNA vaccine and gene therapy vector-encoded transgenes are toxic to the E. coli plasmid production host resulting in poor production yields. For plasmid products undergoing clinical evaluation, sequence modification to eliminate toxicity is undesirable because an altered vector is a new chemical entity. We hypothesized that: (1) insert-encoded toxicity is mediated by unintended expression of a toxic insert-encoded protein from spurious bacterial promoters; and (2) that toxicity could be eliminated with antisense RNA-mediated translation inhibition. We developed the pINT PR PL vector, a chromosomally integrable RNA expression vector, and utilized it to express insert-complementary (anti-insert) RNA from a single defined site in the bacterial chromosome. Anti-insert RNA eliminated leaky fluorescent protein expression from a target plasmid. A toxic retroviral gag pol helper plasmid produced in a gag pol anti-insert strain had fourfold improved plasmid fermentation yields. Plasmid fermentation yields were also fourfold improved when a DNA vaccine plasmid containing a toxic Influenza serotype H1 hemagglutinin transgene was grown in an H1 sense strand anti-insert production strain, suggesting that in this case toxicity was mediated by an antisense alternative reading frame-encoded peptide. This anti-insert chromosomal RNA expression technology is a general approach to improve production yields with plasmid-based vectors that encode toxic transgenes, or toxic alternative frame peptides.