Efficient Modification of the CCR5 Locus in Primary Human T Cells With megaTAL Nuclease Establishes HIV-1 Resistance.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Molecular therapy. Nucleic acids, Volume 5, Issue 8, p.e352 (2016)


A naturally occurring 32-base pair deletion of the HIV-1 co-receptor CCR5 has demonstrated protection against HIV infection of human CD4(+) T cells. Recent genetic engineering approaches using engineered nucleases to disrupt the gene and mimic this mutation show promise for HIV therapy. We developed a megaTAL nuclease targeting the third extracellular loop of CCR5 that we delivered to primary human T cells by mRNA transfection. The CCR5 megaTAL nuclease established resistance to HIV in cell lines and disrupted the expression of CCR5 on primary human CD4(+) T cells with a high efficiency, achieving up to 80% modification of the locus in primary cells as measured by molecular analysis. Gene-modified cells engrafted at levels equivalent to unmodified cells when transplanted into immunodeficient mice. Furthermore, genetically modified CD4(+) cells were preferentially expanded during HIV-1 infection in vivo in an immunodeficient mouse model. Our results demonstrate the feasibility of targeting CCR5 in primary T cells using an engineered megaTAL nuclease, and the potential to use gene-modified cells to reconstitute a patient's immune system and provide protection from HIV infection.