Huddinge University Hospital is a major teaching hospital affiliated with the Karolinska Institute in Southern Stockholm. For the past few years several groups have been working there in different areas of gene therapy relating to cancer, genetic and infectious diseases. However, a facility to produce clinical grade material under good manufacturing practice was lacking. To this end, Huddinge University Hospital has taken the initiative to open a Gene Therapy Research Center in 1996. This facility, which is unique of its kind in Scandinavia, is located in the Novum Research Park, Huddinge, and is a part of the existing Clinical Research Center. The newly built centre will allow clinicians and researchers to develop and produce vectors (viral and nonviral) for clinical trials and do basic research to understand the mechanisms of diseases. Although the centre will primarily serve the academic institutions it will also extend its facilities to other investigators in this field. The production unit is run in collaboration with the Faculty of Medicine, University of Lund. On-going projects include production of plasmid vectors for prevention of postangioplasty restenosis, DNA vaccine for HIV-1, cationic liposome DNA complexes for cystic fibrosis and retroviral vectors for HIV-1.
The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was used to demonstrate proviral DNA of lentiviruses of small ruminants in cultured cells. Primers for the Taq polymerase were selected in the GAG gene of Icelandic maedi-visna virus and POL gene of caprine arthritis-encephalitis (CAE) virus. Using PCR, proviral DNA of CAE virus was detected at 1 day post infection, 4 days before viral protein could be demonstrated using a sensitive immunoblotting protocol and 6 days before the appearance of syncytia. Primers derived from the published sequence of CAE virus successfully primed for the synthesis of homologous virus and Icelandic maedi-visna virus but not for maedi-visna virus isolated in The Netherlands. In contrast, primers derived from the GAG region of Icelandic maedi-visna virus allowed the amplification of DNA of homologous virus, maedi-visna virus isolated in The Netherlands as well as CAE virus.
Genome of all known retroviruses consists of two identical molecules of RNA, which are non-covalently linked. The most stable contact site between two RNA molecules is located near their 5' ends. The molecular interactions in the dimer linkage structure (DLS) in mature virions are currently unknown. Recently we suggested that the dimer linkage structure in human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) contains both duplex and quadruplex domains and proposed a model of DLS in HIV-1Mal (Central African virus). In this paper we showed that similar models can be also built for HIV- 1Lai, a representative of the North-American and European viruses. One of the double-stranded domains in the model structures represents either an extended duplex formed by different pathways (through base pair melting and subsequent reannealing or by a recombination mechanism) or kissing loop complex. The quadruplexes contain both G- and mixed tetrads, for example, G.C.G.C or A.U.A.U. Phylogenetic analysis of 350 isolates from NCBI database showed that similar models of DLS are predictable practically for all HIV-1 isolates surveyed. A model of dimer linkage structure in Moloney murine sarcoma virus (MuSV) is also presented. The structure includes a duplex formed by the palindromic sequences and several quadruplexes.
Type A pyruvate carboxylase (PC) deficiency presents mainly in the Amerindian population, specifically the Ojibwa, Cree and Micmac tribes of the Algonquin-speaking peoples. The gene for PC contains a homozygous founder mutation (G1828-->A) that results in an Ala610-->Thr amino acid substitution in Ojibwa with Type A PC deficiency. The mutation is located in the highly conserved pyruvate-binding domain of PC. The present paper describes a retroviral expression system for human PC used to analyse the effects of this mutation. We show, through immunoblot analysis, PC enzyme activity assays, reverse-transcription PCR and mitochondrial-import experiments, that this mutation is disease-causing in the Ojibwa population owing to its decreased catalytic activity, decreased steady-state levels of expression and inefficient import into the mitochondria. Our data suggest that this mutation may affect the stability of the protein, resulting in decreased steady-state levels of expression, and that it may also affect the secondary structure of the protein during the import process, thereby inhibiting proper translocation into the mitochondria, where PC is active.
Crow's viral hypothesis of schizophrenia proposes that psychosis may be the result of mutagenesis caused by viral integration or transposition in human genomic DNA. Molecular genetic techniques can be used to systematically investigate this hypothesis. In a study of genomic lymphocyte DNA unexpected DNA polymorphisms which were probably insertions and deletions were found in specific human genomic retroviral (proviral) related sequences. However these changes were found exclusively in normal Icelandic individuals and are probably of evolutionary origin. The extent to which human retroviral insertion and deletion has taken place and the mobility of such sequences will help in understanding their evolutionary origin and might provide a source of polymorphic marker sequences that could be used in genetic linkage studies of disease.