Lentivirus gene transfer in murine hematopoietic progenitor cells is compromised by a delay in proviral integration and results in transduction mosaicism and heterogeneous gene expression in progeny cells
Human immunodeficiency virus type 1-based lentivirus vectors containing the green fluorescent protein (GFP) gene were used to transduce murine Lin(-) c-kit(+) Sca1(+) primitive hematopoietic progenitor cells. Following transduction, the cells were plated into hematopoietic progenitor cell assays in methylcellulose and the colonies were scored for GFP positivity. After incubation for 20 h, lentivirus vectors transduced 27.3% +/- 6.7% of the colonies derived from unstimulated target cells, but transduction was more efficient when the cells were supported with stem cell factor (SCF) alone (42. 0% +/- 5.5%) or SCF, interleukin-3 (IL-3), and IL-6 (53.3 +/- 1.8%) during transduction. The, vesicular stomatitis virus glycoprotein-pseudotyped MGIN oncoretrovirus control vector required IL-3, IL-6, and SCF for significant transduction (39.3 +/- 9.4%). Interestingly, only a portion of the progeny cells within the lentivirus-transduced methylcellulose colonies expressed GFP, in contrast to the homogeneous expression in oncoretrovirus-transduced colonies. Secondary plating of the primary GFP(+) lentivirus vector-transduced colonies revealed vector PCR(+) GFP(+) (42%), vector PCR(-) GFP(-) (46%), and vector PCR(+) GFP(-) (13%) secondary colonies, indicating true genetic mosaicism with respect to the viral genome in the progeny cells. The degree of vector mosaicism in individual colonies could be reduced by extending the culture time after transduction and before plating into the clonal progenitor cell assay, indicating a delay in the lentiviral integration process. Furthermore, supplementation with exogenous deoxynucleoside triphosphates during transduction decreased mosaicism within the colonies. Although cytokine stimulation during transduction correlates with higher transduction efficiency, rapid cell division after transduction may result in loss of the viral genome in the progeny cells. Therefore, optimal transduction may require activation without promoting intense cell proliferation prior to vector integration.