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CRISPR/Cas9-based disease modelling and functional correction of Interleukin 7 Receptor alpha Severe Combined Immunodeficiency in T-lymphocytes and hematopoietic stem cells

Rai, Rajeev; Steinberg, Zohar; Romito, Marianna; Zinghirino, Federica; Hu, Yi-Ting; White, Nathan; Naseem, Asma; ... Cavazza, Alessia; + view all (2024) CRISPR/Cas9-based disease modelling and functional correction of Interleukin 7 Receptor alpha Severe Combined Immunodeficiency in T-lymphocytes and hematopoietic stem cells. Human Gene Therapy 10.1089/hum.2023.100. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Interleukin 7 Receptor  Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (IL7R-SCID) is a life-threatening disorder caused by homozygous mutations in the IL7RA gene. Defective IL7R expression in humans hampers T cell precursors proliferation and differentiation during lymphopoiesis resulting in absence of T cells in newborns, who succumb to severe infections and death early after birth. Previous attempts to tackle IL7R-SCID by viral gene therapy have shown that unregulated IL7R expression predisposes to leukaemia, suggesting the application of targeted gene editing to insert a correct copy of the IL7RA gene in its genomic locus and mediate its physiological expression as a more feasible therapeutic approach. To this aim, we have first developed a CRISPR/Cas9-based IL7R-SCID disease modelling system that recapitulates the disease phenotype in primary human T cells and hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs). Then, we have designed a knock-in strategy that targets IL7RA exon 1 and introduces via homology directed repair a corrective, promoterless IL7RA cDNA followed by a reporter cassette through AAV6 transduction. Targeted integration of the corrective cassette in primary T cells restored IL7R expression and rescued functional downstream IL7R signalling. When applied to HSPCs further induced to differentiate into T cells in an Artificial Thymic Organoid system, our gene editing strategy overcame the T cell developmental block observed in IL7R-SCID patients, while promoting full maturation of T cells with physiological and developmentally regulated IL7R expression. Finally, genotoxicity assessment of the CRISPR/Cas9 platform in HSPCs using biased and unbiased technologies confirmed the safety of the strategy, paving the way for a new, efficient, and safe therapeutic option for IL7R-SCID patients.

Type: Article
Title: CRISPR/Cas9-based disease modelling and functional correction of Interleukin 7 Receptor alpha Severe Combined Immunodeficiency in T-lymphocytes and hematopoietic stem cells
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1089/hum.2023.100
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1089/hum.2023.100
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Gene editing; hematopoietic stem cells; T cells; immunodeficiency; disease modelling
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health > Infection, Immunity and Inflammation Dept
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10186154
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