Molecular Therapy: Methods & Clinical Development (Jan 2016)

Investigating the functionality of an OCT4-short response element in human induced pluripotent stem cells

  • Agustin Vega-Crespo,
  • Brian Truong,
  • Kip J Hermann,
  • Jason P Awe,
  • Katherine M Chang,
  • Patrick C Lee,
  • Benjamen E Schoenberg,
  • Lily Wu,
  • James A Byrne,
  • Gerald S Lipshutz

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 3, no. C


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Pluripotent stem cells offer great therapeutic promise for personalized treatment platforms for numerous injuries, disorders, and diseases. Octamer-binding transcription factor 4 (OCT4) is a key regulatory gene maintaining pluripotency and self-renewal of mammalian cells. With site-specific integration for gene correction in cellular therapeutics, use of the OCT4 promoter may have advantages when expressing a suicide gene if pluripotency remains. However, the human OCT4 promoter region is 4 kb in size, limiting the capacity of therapeutic genes and other regulatory components for viral vectors, and decreasing the efficiency of homologous recombination. The purpose of this investigation was to characterize the functionality of a novel 967bp OCT4-short response element during pluripotency and to examine the OCT4 titer-dependent response during differentiation to human derivatives not expressing OCT4. Our findings demonstrate that the OCT4-short response element is active in pluripotency and this activity is in high correlation with transgene expression in vitro, and the OCT4-short response element is inactivated when pluripotent cells differentiate. These studies demonstrate that this shortened OCT4 regulatory element is functional and may be useful as part of an optimized safety component in a site-specific gene transferring system that could be used as an efficient and clinically applicable safety platform for gene transfer in cellular therapeutics.