Hyperactive Himar1 transposase mediates transposition in cell culture and enhances gene expression in vivo

Annahita Keravala, Dexi Liu, Eric R. Lechman, Darren Wolfe, Joan A. Nash, David J. Lampe, Paul D. Robbins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The use of nonviral delivery systems results in transient gene expression, in part because of the low efficiency of DNA integration. Previously, vectors based on transposon systems such as Sleeping Beauty have been shown to be able to increase stable transfection efficiencies in cell culture and in animal models. Himar1, a reconstructed active transposon belonging to the Tc1/mariner superfamily, also has been used as a vector for stable gene delivery, but the rate of transposition after transfection is low. In this paper, we evaluate the potential of the hyperactive Himar1 transposase C9, in combination with the Himar1 inverted repeat transposon, as a gene delivery vector. The C9 transposase is a hyperactive mutant of Himar1 with two amino acid substitutions, Q131R and E137K, that result in an increase in activity relative to wild type. Here we demonstrate that cotransfection of the C9 transposase with a Himar1-based vector increases the frequency of stable gene expression in human cells in a transposase concentration-dependent manner. In addition, we establish that C9 transposase mediates integration of the transgene in mammalian cells at a frequency similar to that of Sleeping Beauty under some of the conditions tested. Last, we show significantly higher levels of reporter gene expression in vivo in mouse liver and in synovium of rabbit knee joints after injection of the transposon plasmid expressing the transgene and the C9 transposase. These data suggest that vectors based on the Himar1 transposable element, in conjunction with the hyperactive mutant transposase C9, may be suitable vectors for gene therapy applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1006-1018
Number of pages13
JournalHuman gene therapy
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2006
Externally publishedYes

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