Tumor suppressor CAR-1

Imported: 13 Feb '17 | Published: 30 Jan '07

Ann Killary, Steve Lott, Dawn Chandler

USPTO - Utility Patents


The present invention relates to a new tumor suppressor, designated CAR-1, the gene for which is located on the short arm of human chromosome 1. This gene is directly implicated in colon, kidney and breast cancers, and the CAR-1 ubiquitous expression of the corresponding transcript suggests that it may be involved in yet others. Thus, one aspect of the invention is the diagnosis of CAR-1-related malignancies. The full length cDNA for CAR-1, as well as oligonucleotides derived therefrom, are disclosed. Screening methods for modulators of CAR-1 function and expression, as well as methods for cancer therapy, are described.


This application is a divisional of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/927,091 filed on Aug. 9, 2001 now U.S. Pat. No. 6,943,245, which claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/225,033 filed on Aug. 10, 2000, and U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/227,560, filed on Aug. 23, 2000, the entire contents of each which are incorporated herein by reference.


I. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to the fields of oncology, genetics and molecular biology. More particular the invention relates to the identification, on human chromosome 1, of a tumor suppressor gene. Defects in this gene are associated with the development of cancer.

II. Related Art

Oncogenesis was described as a multistep biological process, which is presently known to occur by the accumulation of genetic damage. On a molecular level, the multistep process of tumorigenesis involves the disruption of both positive and negative regulatory effectors (Weinberg, 1989). The molecular basis for human colon carcinomas has been postulated, by Vogelstein and coworkers (1990), to involve a number of oncogenes, tumor suppressor genes and repair genes. Similarly, defects leading to the development of retinoblastoma have been linked to another tumor suppressor gene (Lee et al., 1987). Still other oncogenes and tumor suppressors have been identified in a variety of other malignancies. Unfortunately, there remains an inadequate number of treatable cancers, and the effects of cancer are catastrophic—over half a million deaths per year in the United States alone.

Cytogenetic aberrations, as well as high frequency loss of heterozygosity (LOH), have been observed within the short arm of human chromosome 1 (Bomme et al., 1994; Bieche et al., 1994; Kovacs et al., 1988; Bieche et al., 1998). In a cytogenetic analysis of colorectal adenomas, the most common chromosome involved in structural aberrations was chromosome 1. Breakpoints clustered within chromosome 1p32–p36 (Bomme et al., 1994). These data suggest that chromosome 1p loss is an early event in colorectal tumorigenesis. At least three separate regions of LOH have been consistently documented with chromosome 1p (1p22–1p31, 1p34–1p35 and 1p36). In a variety of histologically diverse human tumors, including breast, colon and neuroblastoma (Bomme et al., 1994; Bieche et al., 1994; Kovacs et al., 1988; Bieche et al., 1998; Lo Cunsolo et al., 1999). LOH in familial breast cancer indicated common regions of loss that included 1p36 (32%) and 1p32 (51%) (Millikan et al., 1999).

A recent report investigated LOH in a variety of solid tumors and found high frequency LOH in stomach, colon and rectum, breast, endometrium, ovary, testis, kidney, thyroid and sarcomas (Ragnarsson et al., 1999). In addition, several studies have shown that deletions in the 1p36 and 1p32 region correlated with poor survival in colon and breast cancers (Borg et al, 1992; Ogunbiyi et al, 1997; Tsukamato et al, 1998). Functional studies using microcell fusion have also mapped a tumor suppressor locus in colon cancer to within chromosome 1p36 (Tanaka et al., 1993). Candidate tumor suppressor genes p73 and Rad54 have been mapped to 1p36 and 1p32, respectively. However, expression studies and mutational analyses have failed to suggest their importance in colon and breast cancers (Han et al., 1999; Ichimiya et al, 1999; Rasio et al, 1997). Thus these data suggest that an important tumor suppressor gene or genes resides within chromosome 1p32–1p36 and is involved at high frequency in a number of histologically diverse human cancers.

Despite all of this information, the identity of the gene or genes involved with chromosome 1 LOH remains elusive. Without identification of a specific gene and deduction of the protein for which it codes, it is impossible to begin developing an effective therapy targeting this product. Thus, it is an important goal to isolate the tumor suppressor(s) located in this region and determine its structure and function.


Thus, in a first aspect of the invention, there is provided an isolated polynucleotide encoding a polypeptide having an amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:1 or SEQ ID NO:2. The polynucleotide may have a nucleic acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:3 or a complement thereof. The polynucleotide may further comprise a promoter operable in eukaryotic cells, for example, a promoter is a heterologous to the coding sequence. Such a promoter could be hsp68, SV40, CMV, MKC, GAL4UAS, HSV or β-actin. Alternatively, the promoter can be a tissue specific promoter or an inducible promoter.

In another aspect of the invention, there is provided a nucleic acid of 15 to about 5000 base pairs comprising from about 15 contiguous base pairs of SEQ ID NO:3, or the complement thereof. The nucleic acid may contain 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 150, 250, 500, 1000, 1500, 2500 or 3500 contiguous base pairs of SEQ ID NO:3, or the complement thereof

Also provided is a peptide comprising about 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, or 50 contiguous amino acids of SEQ ID NO: 1 or SEQ ID NO:2, and an expression cassette comprising a polynucleotide encoding a polypeptide having the sequence of SEQ ID NO:1 or SEQ ID NO:2, wherein the polynucleotide is under the control of a promoter operable in eukaryotic cells The expression cassette may be contained in a viral vector, such as a retroviral vector, an adenoviral vector, and adeno-associated viral vector, a vaccinia viral vector, or a herpesviral vector. The expression cassette may further comprise a polyadenylation signal and/or a second polynucleotide encoding a second polypeptide, optionally under the control of a second promoter.

In yet another embodiment, there is provided a method for suppressing growth of a cancer cell comprising contacting the cells with an expression cassette comprising a polynucleotide encoding a polypeptide having the sequence of SEQ ID NO: 1 or SEQ ID NO:2, wherein the polynucleotide is under the control of a promoter operable in eukaryotic cells.

In still yet another embodiment, there is provided a cell comprising an expression cassette comprising a polynucleotide encoding a polypeptide having the sequence of SEQ ID NO: 1 or SEQ ID NO:2, wherein the polynucleotide is under the control of a promoter operable in eukaryotic cells.

In still yet a further embodiment, there is provided a monoclonal antibody that binds immunologically to a polypeptide having the sequence of SEQ ID NO: 1 or SEQ ID NO:2, or an immunologic fragment thereof. The antibody may further comprise a detectable label, for example, a fluorescent label, a chemiluminescent label, a radiolabel or an enzyme. Also provided is the corresponding hybridoma cell, and equivalent polyclonal antisera.

In an additional aspect, there is provided a method of diagnosing a cancer comprising the steps of (i) obtaining a tissue sample from a subject; and (ii) assessing the expression of a CAR-1 tumor suppressor in cells of the sample. The cancer may be selected from the group consisting of brain, lung, liver, spleen, kidney, lymph node, small intestine, pancreas, blood cells, colon, stomach, breast, endometrium, prostate, testicle, ovary, skin, head and neck, esophagus, bone marrow and blood cancer, and specifically is colon cancer, kidney cancer or breast cancer. The cancer may be a carcinoma or a neuroblastoma. The sample may be a tissue or fluid sample. Assessing may comprise assaying for a CAR-1-encoding nucleic acid from the sample, and optionally amplifying the nucleic acid. Alternatively, assessing comprises contacting the sample with an antibody that binds immunologically to a CAR-1 polypeptide, for example, in an ELISA.

The method may involves evaluating the level of CAR-1 expression, for example, comparing the expression of CAR-1 with the expression of CAR-1 in non-cancer samples. The method may involve assessing involves evaluating the structure of the CAR-1 gene or transcript. The evaluating may comprise an assay selected from the group consisting of sequencing, wild-type oligonucleotide hybridization, mutant oligonucleotide hybridization, SSCP, PCR and RNase protection. In particular, the evaluating is wild-type or mutant oligonucleotide hybridization and the oligonucleotide is configured in an array on a chip or wafer.

In still yet a further embodiment, there is provided a method for altering the phenotype of a tumor cell comprising the step of administering to a cell a tumor suppressor designated CAR-1 under conditions permitting the uptake of the tumor suppressor by the tumor cell. The tumor cell may be derived from a tissue selected from the group consisting of brain, lung, liver, spleen, kidney, lymph node, small intestine, blood cells, pancreas, colon, stomach, breast, endometrium, prostate, testicle, ovary, skin, head and neck, esophagus, bone marrow and blood tissue. The phenotype may be selected from the group consisting of apoptosis, angiogenesis, proliferation, migration, contact inhibition, soft agar growth and cell cycling. The tumor suppressor may be encapsulated in a liposome.

In still another aspect of the invention, there is provided a method for altering the phenotype of a tumor cell comprising the step of contacting the cell with a nucleic acid (i) encoding a tumor suppressor designated CAR-1 and (ii) a promoter active in the tumor cell, wherein the promoter is operably linked to the region encoding the tumor suppressor, under conditions permitting the uptake of the nucleic acid by the tumor cell. The nucleic acid may be encapsulated in a liposome, or in a viral particle as part of a retrovirus, adenovirus, adeno-associated virus, vaccinia virus and herpesvirus.

In another embodiment, there is provided a method for treating subject with cancer comprising the step of administering to the subject a tumor suppressor designated CAR-1. The tumor cell may be derived from a tissue selected from the group consisting of brain, lung, liver, spleen, kidney, lymph node, small intestine, blood cells, pancreas, colon, stomach, breast, endometrium, prostate, testicle, ovary, skin, head and neck, esophagus, bone marrow and blood tissue. The subject may be a human. The method may comprising the step of administering to the subject a nucleic acid (i) encoding a tumor suppressor designated CAR-1 and (ii) a promoter active in eukaryotic cells, wherein the promoter is operably linked to the region encoding the tumor suppressor.

Also provided is a non-human transgenic eukaryote lacking a functional CAR-1 gene. The eukaryote may be a mammal. Another embodiment is a non-human transgenic eukaryote that over expresses CAR-1 as compared to a similar non-transgenic eukaryote.

In yet another aspect of the invention, there is provided a method of screening a candidate substance for anti-tumor activity comprising the steps of (i) providing a cell lacking functional CAR-1 polypeptide; (ii) contacting the cell with the candidate substance; and (iii) determining the effect of the candidate substance on the cell. The cell may be a tumor cell, for example, one that has a mutation in the coding region of CAR-1. The tumor cell may have aberrant methylation patterns in the coding region of CAR-1, or be a deletion mutant, an insertion mutant, a frameshift mutant, a nonsense mutant, a missense mutant or splice mutant. The determining may comprise comparing one or more characteristics of the cell in the presence of the candidate substance with characteristics of a cell in the absence of the candidate substance. The characteristic may be CAR-1 expression, phosphatase activity, proliferation, metastasis, contact inhibition, soft agar growth, cell cycle regulation, tumor formation, tumor progression and tissue invasion. The candidate substance is a chemotherapeutic, genetic or radiotherapeutic agent. The candidate substance also may be selected from a small molecule library. The cell may be contacted in vitro or in vivo.

In a further embodiment, there is provided an anti-tumor composition made according to the method comprising the steps of (i) providing a cell lacking functional CAR-1 polypeptide; (ii) contacting the cell with the candidate substance; (iii) determining the effect of the candidate substance on the cell; (iv) identifying a candidate inhibitor substance; and (v) making the composition.

In still yet another embodiment, there is provided an isolated and purified nucleic acid that hybridizes, under high stringency conditions, to a DNA segment comprising about 15 to 3826 bases of SEQ ID NO:3, for example, where the nucleic hybridizes to a DNA segment comprising about 17, 20 or 25 to 3826 bases of SEQ ID NO:3.


SEQ ID NO:1=CAR-1 amino acid with alternatively spliced exon; SEQ ID NO:2=CAR-1 amino acid without alternatively spliced exon; SEQ ID NO:3=CAR-1 cDNA; SEQ ID NO:4=BAC clone 392H05 (Accession No. AF161326); SEQ ID NO:5=BAC clone 392H05 (Accession No. AF161326) continued from 3′ end of SEQ ID NO:4; SEQ ID NO:6=BAC clone RP11-150F21 (Accession No. AC022262); SEQ ID NO:7=BAC clone RP11-150F21 (Accession No. AC022262) continued from 3′ end of SEQ ID NO:6; SEQ ID NO:8=BAC clone RP11-131M11 (Accession No. AC026053); SEQ ID NO:9=CAR-1 5′ portion (369 bp) of cDNA fragment SEQ ID NO:4.


I. The Present Invention

The present invention stems from the inventors' identification of a tumor suppressor gene located in the 1p31 to 1p36 region of human chromosome 1. This region is implicated in tumorigenesis by the loss of heterozygosity and by deletions/rearrangement/under expression in cancer cell lines. This discovery facilitates a wide range of endeavors including diagnosis, therapy, and drug screening. Nucleic acids, proteins, antibodies and transgenic cells and animals also are disclosed.

II. The CAR-1 Tumor Suppressor

According to the present invention, there has been identified a tumor suppressor, encoded by a gene in the 1p32 locus, and designated here as CAR-1. This molecule is capable of suppressing tumor phenotypes in various cancers. The term tumor suppressor is well-known to those of skill in the art. Examples of other tumors suppressors are p53, Rb and p16, to name a few. While these molecules are structurally distinct, they form a group of functionally-related molecules, of which CAR-1 is a member. The uses in which these other tumor suppressors now are being exploited are equally applicable here.

In addition to the entire CAR-1 molecule, the present invention also relates to fragments of the polypeptide that may or may not retain the tumor suppressing (or other) activity. Fragments, including the N-terminus of the molecule may be generated by genetic engineering of translation stop sites within the coding region (discussed below). Alternatively, treatment of the CAR-1 molecule with proteolytic enzymes, known as proteases, can produces a variety of N-terminal, C-terminal and internal fragments. Examples of fragments may include contiguous residues of the CAR-1 sequence given in SEQ ID NO:1 and SEQ ID NO:2, of 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 65, 75, 80, 85, 90, 95, 100, 200, 300, 400 or more amino acids in length. These fragments may be purified according to known methods, such as precipitation (e.g., ammonium sulfate), HPLC, ion exchange chromatography, affinity chromatography (including immunoaffinity chromatography) or various size separations (sedimentation, gel electrophoresis, gel filtration).

A. Features of the Polypeptide

The gene for CAR-1 encodes a either a 475 amino acid polypeptide (SEQ ID NO:1) or a 304 amino acid polypeptide (SEQ ID NO:2), depending on splicing. When the present application refers to the function of CAR-1 or “wild-type” activity, it is meant that the molecule in question has the ability to inhibit the transformation of a cell from a normally regulated state of proliferation to a malignant state, i.e., one associated with any sort of abnormal growth regulation, or to inhibit the transformation of a cell from an abnormal state to a highly malignant state, e.g., to prevent metastasis or invasive tumor growth. Other phenotypes that may be considered to be regulated by the normal CAR-1 gene product are angiogenesis, adhesion, migration, cell-to-cell signaling, cell growth, cell proliferation, density-dependent growth, anchorage-dependent growth and others. Determination of which molecules possess this activity may be achieved using assays familiar to those of skill in the art. For example, transfer of genes encoding CAR-1, or variants thereof, into cells that do not have a functional CAR-1 product, and hence exhibit impaired growth control, will identify, by virtue of growth suppression, those molecules having CAR-1 function.

B. Variants of CAR-1

Amino acid sequence variants of the polypeptide can be substitutional, insertional or deletion variants. Deletion variants lack one or more residues of the native protein which are not essential for function or immunogenic activity, and are exemplified by the variants lacking a transmembrane sequence described above. Another common type of deletion variant is one lacking secretory signal sequences or signal sequences directing a protein to bind to a particular part of a cell. Insertional mutants typically involve the addition of material at a non-terminal point in the polypeptide. This may include the insertion of an immunoreactive epitope or simply a single residue. Terminal additions, called fusion proteins, are discussed below.

Substitutional variants typically contain the exchange of one amino acid for another at one or more sites within the protein, and may be designed to modulate one or more properties of the polypeptide, such as stability against proteolytic cleavage, without the loss of other functions or properties. Substitutions of this kind preferably are conservative, that is, one amino acid is replaced with one of similar shape and charge. Conservative substitutions are well known in the art and include, for example, the changes of: alanine to serine; arginine to lysine; asparagine to glutamine or histidine; aspartate to glutamate; cysteine to serine; glutamine to asparagine; glutamate to aspartate; glycine to proline; histidine to asparagine or glutamine; isoleucine to leucine or valine; leucine to valine or isoleucine; lysine to arginine; methionine to leucine or isoleucine; phenylalanine to tyrosine, leucine or methionine; serine to threonine; threonine to serine; tryptophan to tyrosine; tyrosine to tryptophan or phenylalanine; and valine to isoleucine or leucine.

The following is a discussion based upon changing of the amino acids of a protein to create an equivalent, or even an improved, second-generation molecule. For example, certain amino acids may be substituted for other amino acids in a protein structure without appreciable loss of interactive binding capacity with structures such as, for example, antigen-binding regions of antibodies or binding sites on substrate molecules. Since it is the interactive capacity and nature of a protein that defines that protein's biological functional activity, certain amino acid substitutions can be made in a protein sequence, and its underlying DNA coding sequence, and nevertheless obtain a protein with like properties. It is thus contemplated by the inventors that various changes may be made in the DNA sequences of genes without appreciable loss of their biological utility or activity, as discussed below. Table 1 shows the codons that encode particular amino acids.

In making such changes, the hydropathic index of amino acids may be considered. The importance of the hydropathic amino acid index in conferring interactive biologic function on a protein is generally understood in the art (Kyte & Doolittle, 1982). It is accepted that the relative hydropathic character of the amino acid contributes to the secondary structure of the resultant protein, which in turn defines the interaction of the protein with other molecules, for example, enzymes, substrates, receptors, DNA, antibodies, antigens, and the like.

Each amino acid has been assigned a hydropathic index on the basis of their hydrophobicity and charge characteristics (Kyte & Doolittle, 1982), these are: isoleucine (+4.5); valine (+4.2); leucine (+3.8); phenylalanine (+2.8); cysteine/cystine (+2.5); methionine (+1.9); alanine (+1.8); glycine (−0.4); threonine (−0.7); serine (−0.8); tryptophan (−0.9); tyrosine (−1.3), proline (−1.6); histidine (−3.2); glutamate (−3.5); glutamine (−3.5); aspartate (−3.5); asparagine (−3.5); lysine (−3.9); and arginine (−4.5).

It is known in the art that certain amino acids may be substituted by other amino acids having a similar hydropathic index or score and still result in a protein with similar biological activity, i.e., still obtain a biological functionally equivalent protein. In making such changes, the substitution of amino acids whose hydropathic indices are within ±2 is preferred, those which are within ±1 are particularly preferred, and those within ±0.5 are even more particularly preferred.

It is also understood in the art that the substitution of like amino acids can be made effectively on the basis of hydrophilicity. U.S. Pat. No. 4,554,101, incorporated herein by reference, states that the greatest local average hydrophilicity of a protein, as governed by the hydrophilicity of its adjacent amino acids, correlates with a biological property of the protein. As detailed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,554,101, the following hydrophilicity values have been assigned to amino acid residues: arginine (+3.0); lysine (+3.0); aspartate (+3.0±1); glutamate (+3.0±1); serine (+0.3); asparagine (+0.2); glutamine (+0.2); glycine (0); threonine (−0.4); proline (−0.5±1); alanine (−0.5); histidine*−0.5); cysteine (−1.0); methionine (−1.3); valine (−1.5); leucine (−1.8); isoleucine (−1.8); tyrosine (−2.3); phenylalanine (−2.5); tryptophan (−3.4).

It is understood that an amino acid can be substituted for another having a similar hydrophilicity value and still obtain a biologically equivalent and immunologically equivalent protein. In such changes, the substitution of amino acids whose hydrophilicity values are within ±2 is preferred, those that are within ±1 are particularly preferred, and those within ±0.5 are even more particularly preferred.

As outlined above, amino acid substitutions are generally based on the relative similarity of the amino acid side-chain substituents, for example, their hydrophobicity, hydrophilicity, charge, size, and the like. Exemplary substitutions that take various of the foregoing characteristics into consideration are well known to those of skill in the art and include: arginine and lysine; glutamate and aspartate; serine and threonine; glutamine and asparagine; and valine, leucine and isoleucine.

Another embodiment for the preparation of polypeptides according to the invention is the use of peptide mimetics. Mimetics are peptide-containing molecules that mimic elements of protein secondary structure. See, for example, Johnson et al., “Peptide Turn Mimetics” in BIOTECHNOLOGY AND PHARMACY, Pezzuto et al., Eds., Chapman and Hall, New York (1993). The underlying rationale behind the use of peptide mimetics is that the peptide backbone of proteins exists chiefly to orient amino acid side chains in such a way as to facilitate molecular interactions, such as those of antibody and antigen. A peptide mimetic is expected to permit molecular interactions similar to the natural molecule. These principles may be used, in conjunction with the principles outline above, to engineer second generation molecules having many of the natural properties of CAR-1, but with altered and even improved characteristics.

C. Domain Switching

Domain switching involves the generation of chimeric molecules using different but, in this case, related polypeptides. By comparing the CAR-1 sequences, both with mutants and allelic variants, one can make predictions as to the functionally significant regions of these molecules. It is possible, then, to switch related domains of these molecules in an effort to determine the criticality of these regions to CAR-1 function. These molecules may have additional value in that these “chimeras” can be distinguished from natural molecules, while possibly providing the same function.

Based on the sequence identity, at the amino acid level, of the mouse, dog and human sequences, it may be inferred that even small changes in the primary sequence of the molecule will affect function. Further analysis of mutations and their predicted effect on secondary structure will add to this understanding.

D. Fusion Proteins

A specialized kind of insertional variant is the fusion protein. This molecule generally has all or a substantial portion of the native molecule, linked at the N- or C-terminus, to all or a portion of a second polypeptide. For example, fusions typically employ leader sequences from other species to permit the recombinant expression of a protein in a heterologous host. Another useful fusion includes the addition of a immunologically active domain, such as an antibody epitope, to facilitate purification of the fusion protein. Inclusion of a cleavage site at or near the fusion junction will facilitate removal of the extraneous polypeptide after purification. Other useful fusions include linking of functional domains, such as active sites from enzymes, glycosylation domains, cellular targeting signals or transmembrane regions.

E. Purification of Proteins

It will be desirable to purify CAR-1 or variants thereof Protein purification techniques are well known to those of skill in the art. These techniques involve, at one level,, the crude fractionation of the cellular milieu to polypeptide and non-polypeptide fractions. Having separated the polypeptide from other proteins, the polypeptide of interest may be further purified using chromatographic and electrophoretic techniques to achieve partial or complete purification (or purification to homogeneity). Analytical methods particularly suited to the preparation of a pure peptide are ion-exchange chromatography, exclusion chromatography; polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis; isoelectric focusing. A particularly efficient method of purifying peptides is fast protein liquid chromatography or even BPLC.

Certain aspects of the present invention concern the purification, and in particular embodiments, the substantial purification, of an encoded protein or peptide. The term “purified protein or peptide” as used herein, is intended to refer to a composition, isolatable from other components, wherein the protein or peptide is purified to any degree relative to its naturally-obtainable state. A purified protein or peptide therefore also refers to a protein or peptide, free from the environment in which it may naturally occur.

Generally, “purified” will refer to a protein or peptide composition that has been subjected to fractionation to remove various other components, and which composition substantially retains its expressed biological activity. Where the term “substantially purified” is used, this designation will refer to a composition in which the protein or peptide forms the major component of the composition, such as constituting about 50%, about 60%, about 70%, about 80%, about 90%, about 95% or more of the proteins in the composition.

Various methods for quantifying the degree of purification of the protein or peptide will be known to those of skill in the art in light of the present disclosure. These include, for example, determining the specific activity of an active fraction, or assessing the amount of polypeptides within a fraction by SDS/PAGE analysis. A preferred method for assessing the purity of a fraction is to calculate the specific activity of the fraction, to compare it to the specific activity of the initial extract, and to thus calculate the degree of purity, herein assessed by a “-fold purification number.” The actual units used to represent the amount of activity will, of course, be dependent upon the particular assay technique chosen to follow the purification and whether or not the expressed protein or peptide exhibits a detectable activity.

Various techniques suitable for use in protein purification will be well known to those of skill in the art. These include, for example, precipitation with ammonium sulphate, PEG, antibodies and the like or by heat denaturation, followed by centrifugation; chromatography steps such as ion exchange, gel filtration, reverse phase, hydroxylapatite and affinity chromatography; isoelectric focusing; gel electrophoresis; and combinations of such and other techniques. As is generally known in the art, it is believed that the order of conducting the various purification steps may be changed, or that certain steps may be omitted, and still result in a suitable method for the preparation of a substantially purified protein or peptide.

There is no general requirement that the protein or peptide always be provided in their most purified state. Indeed, it is contemplated that less substantially purified products will have utility in certain embodiments. Partial purification may be accomplished by using fewer purification steps in combination, or by utilizing different forms of the same general purification scheme. For example, it is appreciated that a cation-exchange column chromatography performed utilizing an HPLC apparatus will generally result in a greater “-fold” purification than the same technique utilizing a low pressure chromatography system. Methods exhibiting a lower degree of relative purification may have advantages in total recovery of protein product, or in maintaining the activity of an expressed protein.

It is known that the migration of a polypeptide can vary, sometimes significantly, with different conditions of SDS/PAGE (Capaldi et al, 1977). It will therefore be appreciated that under differing electrophoresis conditions, the apparent molecular weights of purified or partially purified expression products may vary.

High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) is characterized by a very rapid separation with extraordinary resolution of peaks. This is achieved by the use of very fine particles and high pressure to maintain an adequate flow rate. Separation can be accomplished in a matter of minutes, or at most an hour. Moreover, only a very small volume of the sample is needed because the particles are so small and close-packed that the void volume is a very small fraction of the bed volume. Also, the concentration of the sample need not be very great because the bands are so narrow that there is very little dilution of the sample.

Gel chromatography, or molecular sieve chromatography, is a special type of partition chromatography that is based on molecular size. The theory behind gel chromatography is that the column, which is prepared with tiny particles of an inert substance that contain small pores, separates larger molecules from smaller molecules as they pass through or around the pores, depending on their size. As long as the material of which the particles are made does not adsorb the molecules, the sole factor determining rate of flow is the size. Hence, molecules are eluted from the column in decreasing size, so long as the shape is relatively constant. Gel chromatography is unsurpassed for separating molecules of different size because separation is independent of all other factors such as pH, ionic strength, temperature, etc. There also is virtually no adsorption, less zone spreading and the elution volume is related in a simple matter to molecular weight.

Affinity Chromatography is a chromatographic procedure that relies on the specific affinity between a substance to be isolated and a molecule that it can specifically bind to. This is a receptor-ligand type interaction. The column material is synthesized by covalently coupling one of the binding partners to an insoluble matrix. The column material is then able to specifically adsorb the substance from the solution. Elution occurs by changing the conditions to those in which binding will not occur (alter pH, ionic strength, temperature, etc.).

A particular type of affinity chromatography useful in the purification of carbohydrate containing compounds is lectin affinity chromatography. Lectins are a class of substances that bind to a variety of polysaccharides and glycoproteins. Lectins are usually coupled to agarose by cyanogen bromide. Conconavalin A coupled to Sepharose was the first material of this sort to be used and has been widely used in the isolation of polysaccharides and glycoproteins other lectins that have been include lentil lectin, wheat germ agglutinin which has been useful in the purification of N-acetyl glucosaminyl residues and Helix pomatia lectin. Lectins themselves are purified using affinity chromatography with carbohydrate ligands. Lactose has been used to purify lectins from castor bean and peanuts; maltose has been useful in extracting lectins from lentils and jack bean; N-acetyl-D galactosamine is used for purifying lectins from soybean; N-acetyl glucosaminyl binds to lectins from wheat germ; D-galactosamine has been used in obtaining lectins from clams and L-fuctose will bind to lectins from lotus.

The matrix should be a substance that itself does not adsorb molecules to any significant extent and that has a broad range of chemical, physical and thermal stability. The ligand should be coupled in such a way as to not affect its binding properties. The ligand should also provide relatively tight binding. And it should be possible to elute the substance without destroying the sample or the ligand. One of the most common forms of affinity chromatography is immunoaffinity chromatography. The generation of antibodies that would be suitable for use in accord with the present invention is discussed below.

F. Synthetic Peptides

The present invention also describes smaller CAR-1-related peptides for use in various embodiments of the present invention. Because of their relatively small size, the peptides of the invention can also be synthesized in solution or on a solid support in accordance with conventional techniques. Various automatic synthesizers are commercially available and can be used in accordance with known protocols. See, for example, Stewart and Young, (1984); Tam et al., (1983); Merrifield, (1986); and Barany and Merrifield (1979), each incorporated herein by reference. Short peptide sequences, or libraries of overlapping peptides, usually from about 6 up to about 35 to 50 amino acids, which correspond to the selected regions described herein, can be readily synthesized and then screened in screening assays designed to identify reactive peptides. Alternatively, recombinant DNA technology may be employed wherein a nucleotide sequence which encodes a peptide of the invention is inserted into an expression vector, transformed or transfected into an appropriate host cell and cultivated under conditions suitable for expression,

G. Antigen Compositions

The present invention also provides for the use of CAR-1 proteins or peptides as antigens for the immunization of animals relating to the production of antibodies. It is envisioned that either CAR-1, or portions thereof, will be coupled, bonded, bound, conjugated or chemically-linked to one or more agents via linkers, polylinkers or derivatized amino acids. This may be performed such that a bispecific or multivalent composition or vaccine is produced. It is further envisioned that the methods used in the preparation of these compositions will be familiar to those of skill in the art and should be suitable for administration to animals, i.e., pharmaceutically acceptable. Preferred agents are the carriers are keyhole limpet hemocyannin (KLH) or bovine serum albumin (BSA).

III. Nucleic Acids

The present invention also provides, in another embodiment, genes encoding CAR-1. A genes for the human CAR-1 molecule have been identified. The present invention is not limited in scope to these genes, however, as one of ordinary skill in the could, using these nucleic acids, readily identify related homologs in various other species (e.g., mouse, rat, rabbit, dog, monkey, gibbon, chimp, ape, baboon, cow, pig, horse, sheep, cat and other species).

In addition, it should be clear that the present invention is not limited to the specific nucleic acids disclosed herein. As discussed below, a “CAR-1 gene” may contain a variety of different bases and yet still produce a corresponding polypeptide that is functionally indistinguishable, and in some cases structurally, from the human and mouse genes disclosed herein.

Similarly, any reference to a nucleic acid should be read as encompassing a host cell containing that nucleic acid and, in some cases, capable of expressing the product of that nucleic acid. In addition to therapeutic considerations, cells expressing nucleic acids of the present invention may prove useful in the context of screening for agents that induce, repress, inhibit, augment, interfere with, block, abrogate, stimulate or enhance the function of CAR-1.

A. Nucleic Acids Encoding CAR-1

Nucleic acids according to the present invention may encode an entire CAR-1 gene, a domain of CAR-1 that expresses a tumor suppressing, or any other fragment of the CAR-1 sequences set forth herein. The nucleic acid may be derived from genomic DNA, i.e., cloned directly from the genome of a particular organism. In preferred embodiments, however, the nucleic acid would comprise complementary DNA (cDNA). Also contemplated is a cDNA plus a natural intron or an intron derived from another gene; such engineered molecules are sometime referred to as “mini-genes.” At a minimum, these and other nucleic acids of the present invention may be used as molecular weight standards in, for example, gel electrophoresis.

The term “cDNA” is intended to refer to DNA prepared using messenger RNA (mRNA) as template. The advantage of using a cDNA, as opposed to genomic DNA or DNA polymerized from a genomic, non- or partially-processed RNA template, is that the cDNA primarily contains coding sequences of the corresponding protein. There may be times when the full or partial genomic sequence is preferred, such as where the non-coding regions are required for optimal expression or where non-coding regions such as introns are to be targeted in an antisense strategy.

It also is contemplated that a given CAR-1 from a given species may be represented by natural variants that have slightly different nucleic acid sequences but, nonetheless, encode the same protein (see Table 1).

As used in this application, the term “a nucleic acid encoding a CAR-1” refers to a nucleic acid molecule that has been isolated free of total cellular nucleic acid. In preferred embodiments, the invention concerns a nucleic acid sequence essentially as set forth in SEQ ID NO:3, a cDNA. At each point the full cDNA is mentioned, one may also insert SEQ ID NO:9, a 5′ portion of the cDNA. The term “as set forth in SEQ ID NO:3” means that the nucleic acid sequence substantially corresponds to a portion of SEQ ID NO:3. The term “functionally equivalent codon” is used herein to refer to codons that encode the same amino acid, such as the six codons for arginine or serine (Table 1), and also refers to codons that encode biologically equivalent amino acids, as discussed in the following pages.

TABLE 1 Amino Acids Codons Alanine Ala A GCA GCC GCG GCU Cysteine Cys C UGC UGU Aspartic acid Asp D GAC GAU Glutamic acid Glu E GAA GAG Phenylalanine Phe F UUC UUU Glycine Gly G GGA GGC GGG GGU Histidine His H CAC CAU Isoleucine Ile I AUA AUC AUU Lysine Lys K AAA AAG Leucine Leu L UUA UUG CUA CUC CUG CUU Methionine Met M AUG Asparagine Asn N AAC AAU Proline Pro P CCA CCC CCG CCU Glutamine Gln Q CAA CAG Arginine Arg R AGA AGG CGA CGC CGG CGU Serine Ser S AGC AGU UCA UCC UCG UCU Threonine Thr T ACA ACC ACG ACU Valine Val V GUA GUC GUG GUU Tryptophan Trp W UGG Tyrosine Tyr Y UAC UAU

Allowing for the degeneracy of the genetic code, sequences that have at least about 50%, usually at least about 60%, more usually about 70%, most usually about 80%, preferably at least about 90% and most preferably about 95% of nucleotides that are identical to the nucleotides of SEQ ID NO:3. Sequences that are essentially the same as those set forth in SEQ ID NO:3 also may be functionally defined as sequences that are capable of hybridizing to a nucleic acid segment containing the complement of SEQ ID NO:3 under standard conditions.

The DNA segments of the present invention include those encoding biologically functional equivalent CAR-1 proteins and peptides, as described above. Such sequences may arise as a consequence of codon redundancy and amino acid functional equivalency that are known to occur naturally within nucleic acid sequences and the proteins thus encoded. Alternatively, functionally equivalent proteins or peptides may be created via the application of recombinant DNA technology, in which changes in the protein structure may be engineered, based on considerations of the properties of the amino acids being exchanged. Changes designed by man may be introduced through the application of site-directed mutagenesis techniques or may be introduced randomly and screened later for the desired function, as described below.

The present invention also encompasses genomic sequences corresponding to the CAR-1 gene. These are included in three BAC clones, the sequences of which are provided as SEQ ID NOS:4–8. The relevant demarcation of exons and introns are provided in the following table.

TABLE 2 Genomic Sequence as ordered from RP11-150F21 (No. AC022262) The known portion of Exon 1 begins AGGC at nucleotide 24164 The ATG initiation codon is located at nucleotides 24766-8 Exon 1 ends GCAG at nucleotide 25173 Exon 2 begins AGGG at nucleotide 40642 Exon 2 ends CAAG at nucleotide 40737 Exon 3 begins TCTT at nucleotide 46263 Exon 3 ends AGCG at nucleotide 46519 Exon 3B begins GCTC at nucleotide 47839 Exon 3B ends CCAG at nucleotide 47954 Exon 4 begins TGCC at nucleotide 58377 The stop codon TGA (for the truncated protein, excluding exon 3B) is located at nucleotides 58528-30 The stop codon TAG (for the full-length protein, including exon 3B) is located at nucleotides 58925-7 Exon 4 ends TGTC at nucleotide 60701 Genomic Sequence as ordered from RP11-131M11 (No. AC026053) Nucleotide 1 is located within in Exon 1 The ATG initiation codon is located at nucleotides 187 Exon 1 ends GCAG at nucleotide 588 Exon 2 begins AGGG at nucleotide 8084 Exon 2 ends CAAG at nucleotide 8179 Exon 3 begins TCTT at nucleotide 13428 Exon 3 ends AGCG at nucleotide 13684 Exon 3B begins GCTC at nucleotide 15057 Exon 3B ends CCAG at nucleotide 15172 Exon 4 begins TGCC at nucleotide 23423 The stop codon TGA (for the truncated protein, excluding exon 3B) is located at nucleotides 23574-6 The stop codon TAG (for the full-length protein, including exon 3B) is located at nucleotides 23970-2 Exon 4 ends TGTC at nucleotide 25746 Genomic Sequence as ordered from BAC 392H05 (No. AF161326) The known portion of our Exon 1 begins AGGC at nucleotide 34306 The ATG initiation codon is located at nucleotides 34914-6 Exon 1 ends GCAG at nucleotide 35321 Exon 2 begins AGGG at nucleotide 50774 Exon 2 ends CAAG at nucleotide 50869 Exon 3 begins TCTT at nucleotide 58182 Exon 3 ends AGCG at nucleotide 58438 Exon 3B begins GCTC at nucleotide 59758 Exon 3B ends CCAG at nucleotide 59873 Exon 4 begins TGCC at nucleotide 71702 The stop codon TGA (for the truncated protein, excluding exon 3B) is located at nucleotides 71853-5 The stop codon TAG (for the full-length protein, including exon 3B) is located at nucleotide 72250-2 Exon 4 ends TGTC at nucleotide 74026

B. Oligonucleotide Probes and Primers

Naturally, the present invention also encompasses DNA segments that are complementary, or essentially complementary, to the sequence set forth in SEQ ID NO:3 or SEQ ID NOS:4–8. Nucleic acid sequences that are “complementary” are those that are capable of base-pairing according to the standard Watson-Crick complementary rules. As used herein, the term “complementary sequences” means nucleic acid sequences that are substantially complementary, as may be assessed by the same nucleotide comparison set forth above, or as defined as being capable of hybridizing to the nucleic acid segment of SEQ ID NO:3 or SEQ ID NOS:4–8 under relatively stringent conditions such as those described herein. Such sequences may encode the entire CAR-1 protein or functional or non-functional fragments thereof

Alternatively, the hybridizing segments may be shorter oligonucleotides. Sequences of 17 bases long should occur only once in the human genome and, therefore, suffice to specify a unique target sequence. Although shorter oligomers are easier to make and increase in vivo accessibility, numerous other factors are involved in determining the specificity of hybridization. Both binding affinity and sequence specificity of an oligonucleotide to its complementary target increases with increasing length. It is contemplated that exemplary oligonucleotides of 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 65, 70, 75, 80, 85, 90, 95, 100 or more base pairs will be used, although others are contemplated. Longer polynucleotides encoding 250, 500, 1000, 1212, 1500, 2000, 2500, 3000 or longer are contemplated as well. Such oligonucleotides will find use, for example, as probes in Southern and Northern blots and as primers in amplification reactions.

Suitable hybridization conditions will be well known to those of skill in the art. In certain applications, for example, substitution of amino acids by site-directed mutagenesis, it is appreciated that lower stringency conditions are required. Under these conditions, hybridization may occur even though the sequences of probe and target strand are not perfectly complementary, but are mismatched at one or more positions. Conditions may be rendered less stringent by increasing salt concentration and decreasing temperature. For example, a medium stringency condition could be provided by about 0.1 to 0.25 M NaCl at temperatures of about 37° C. to about 55° C., while a low stringency condition could be provided by about 0.15 M to about 0.9 M salt, at temperatures ranging from about 20° C. to about 55° C. Thus, hybridization conditions can be readily manipulated, and thus will generally be a method of choice depending on the desired results.

In other embodiments, hybridization may be achieved under conditions of, for example, 50 mM Tris-HCl (pH 8.3), 75 mM KCl, 3 mM MgCl2, 10 mM dithiothreitol, at temperatures between approximately 20° C. to about 37° C. Other hybridization conditions utilized could include approximately 10 mM Tris-HCl (pH 8.3), 50 mM KCl, 1.5 μM MgCl2, at temperatures ranging from approximately 40° C. to about 72° C. Formamide and SDS also may be used to alter the hybridization conditions.

One method of using probes and primers of the present invention is in the search for genes related to CAR-1 or, more particularly, homologs of CAR-1 from other species. Normally, the target DNA will be a genomic or cDNA library, although screening may involve analysis of RNA molecules. By varying the stringency of hybridization, and the region of the probe, different degrees of homology may be discovered.

Another way of exploiting probes and primers of the present invention is in site-directed, or site-specific mutagenesis. Site-specific mutagenesis is a technique useful in the preparation of individual peptides, or biologically functional equivalent proteins or peptides, through specific mutagenesis of the underlying DNA. The technique further provides a ready ability to prepare and test sequence variants, incorporating one or more of the foregoing considerations, by introducing one or more nucleotide sequence changes into the DNA. Site-specific mutagenesis allows the production of mutants through the use of specific oligonucleotide sequences which encode the DNA sequence of the desired mutation, as well as a sufficient number of adjacent nucleotides, to provide a primer sequence of sufficient size and sequence complexity to form a stable duplex on both sides of the deletion junction being traversed. Typically, a primer of about 17 to 25 nucleotides in length is preferred, with about 5 to 10 residues on both sides of the junction of the sequence being altered.

The technique typically employs a bacteriophage vector that exists in both a single stranded and double stranded form. Typical vectors useful in site-directed mutagenesis include vectors such as the M13 phage. These phage vectors are commercially available and their use is generally well known to those skilled in the art. Double-stranded plasmids are also routinely employed in site directed mutagenesis, which eliminates the step of transferring the gene of interest from a phage to a plasmid.

In general, site-directed mutagenesis is performed by first obtaining a single-stranded vector, or melting of two strands of a double-stranded vector which includes within its sequence a DNA sequence encoding the desired protein. An oligonucleotide primer bearing the desired mutated sequence is synthetically prepared. This primer is then annealed with the single-stranded DNA preparation, taking into account the degree of mismatch when selecting hybridization conditions, and subjected to DNA polymerizing enzymes such as E. coli polymerase I Klenow fragment, in order to complete the synthesis of the mutation-bearing strand. Thus, a heteroduplex is formed wherein one strand encodes the original non-mutated sequence and the second strand bears the desired mutation. This heteroduplex vector is then used to transform appropriate cells, such as E. coli cells, and clones are selected that include recombinant vectors bearing the mutated sequence arrangement.

The preparation of sequence variants of the selected gene using site-directed mutagenesis is provided as a means of producing potentially useful species and is not meant to be limiting, as there are other ways in which sequence variants of genes may be obtained. For example, recombinant vectors encoding the desired gene may be treated with mutagenic agents, such as hydroxylamine, to obtain sequence variants.

C. Antisense Constructs

In some cases, mutant tumor suppressors may not be non-functional. Rather, they may have aberrant functions that cannot be overcome by replacement gene therapy, even where the “wild-type” molecule is expressed in amounts in excess of the mutant polypeptide. Antisense treatments are one way of addressing this situation. Antisense technology also may be used to “knock-out” function of CAR-1 in the development of cell lines or transgenic mice for research, diagnostic and screening purposes.

Antisense methodology takes advantage of the fact that nucleic acids tend to pair with “complementary” sequences. By complementary, it is meant that polynucleotides are those which are capable of base-pairing according to the standard Watson-Crick complementarity rules. That is, the larger purines will base pair with the smaller pyrimidines to form combinations of guanine paired with cytosine (G:C) and adenine paired with either thymine (A:T) in the case of DNA, or adenine paired with uracil (A:U) in the case of RNA. Inclusion of less common bases such as inosine, 5-methylcytosine, 6-methyladenine, hypoxanthine and others in hybridizing sequences does not interfere with pairing.

Targeting double-stranded (ds) DNA with polynucleotides leads to triple-helix formation; targeting RNA will lead to double-helix formation. Antisense polynucleotides, when introduced into a target cell, specifically bind to their target polynucleotide and interfere with transcription, RNA processing, transport, translation and/or stability. Antisense RNA constructs, or DNA encoding such antisense RNA's, may be employed to inhibit gene transcription or translation or both within a host cell, either in vitro or in vivo, such as within a host animal, including a human subject.

Antisense constructs may be designed to bind to the promoter and other control regions, exons, introns or even exon-intron boundaries of a gene. It is contemplated that the most effective antisense constructs will include regions complementary to intron/exon splice junctions. Thus, it is proposed that a preferred embodiment includes an antisense construct with complementarity to regions within 50–200 bases of an intron-exon splice junction. It has been observed that some exon sequences can be included in the construct without seriously affecting the target selectivity thereof The amount of exonic material included will vary depending on the particular exon and intron sequences used. One can readily test whether too much exon DNA is included simply by testing the constructs in vitro to determine whether normal cellular function is affected or whether the expression of related genes having complementary sequences is affected.

As stated above, “complementary” or “antisense” means polynucleotide sequences that are substantially complementary over their entire length and have very few base mismatches. For example, sequences of fifteen bases in length may be termed complementary when they have complementary nucleotides at thirteen or fourteen positions. Naturally, sequences which are completely complementary will be sequences which are entirely complementary throughout their entire length and have no base mismatches. Other sequences with lower degrees of homology also are contemplated. For example, an antisense construct which has limited regions of high homology, but also contains a non-homologous region (e.g., ribozyme; see below) could be designed. These molecules, though having less than 50% homology, would bind to target sequences under appropriate conditions.

It may be advantageous to combine portions of genomic DNA with cDNA or synthetic sequences to generate specific constructs. For example, where an intron is desired in the ultimate construct, a genomic clone will need to be used. The cDNA or a synthesized polynucleotide may provide more convenient restriction sites for the remaining portion of the construct and, therefore, would be used for the rest of the sequence.

D. Ribozymes

Another approach for addressing the “dominant negative” mutant tumor suppressor is through the use of ribozymes. Although proteins traditionally have been used for catalysis of nucleic acids, another class of macromolecules has emerged as useful in this endeavor. Ribozymes are RNA-protein complexes that cleave nucleic acids in a site-specific fashion. Ribozymes have specific catalytic domains that possess endonuclease activity (Kim and Cech, 1987; Gerlach et al., 1987; Forster and Symons, 1987). For example, a large number of ribozymes accelerate phosphoester transfer reactions with a high degree of specificity, often cleaving only one of several phosphoesters in an oligonucleotide substrate (Cook et at, 1981; Michel and Westhof, 1990; Reinhold-Hurek and Shub, 1992). This specificity has been attributed to the requirement that the substrate bind via specific base-pairing interactions to the internal guide sequence (“IGS”) of the ribozyme prior to chemical reaction.

Ribozyme catalysis has primarily been observed as part of sequence-specific cleavage/ligation reactions involving nucleic acids (Joyce, 1989; Cook et al, 1981). For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,354,855 reports that certain ribozymes can act as endonucleases with a sequence specificity greater than that of known ribonucleases and approaching that of the DNA restriction enzymes. Thus, sequence-specific ribozyme-mediated inhibition of gene expression may be particularly suited to therapeutic applications (Scanlon et al, 1991; Sarver et al, 1990). Recently, it was reported that ribozymes elicited genetic changes in some cells lines to which they were applied; the altered genes included the oncogenes H-ras, c-fos and genes of HIV. Most of this work involved the modification of a target mRNA, based on a specific mutant codon that is cleaved by a specific ribozyme.

E. Vectors for Cloning, Gene Transfer and Expression

Within certain embodiments expression vectors are employed to express the CAR-1 polypeptide product, which can then be purified and, for example, be used to vaccinate animals to generate antisera or monoclonal antibody with which further studies may be conducted. In other embodiments, the expression vectors are used in gene therapy. Expression requires that appropriate signals be provided in the vectors, and which include various regulatory elements, such as enhancers/promoters from both viral and mammalian sources that drive expression of the genes of interest in host cells. Elements designed to optimize messenger RNA stability and translatability in host cells also are defined. The conditions for the use of a number of dominant drug selection markers for establishing permanent, stable cell clones expressing the products are also provided, as is an element that links expression of the drug selection markers to expression of the polypeptide.

Throughout this application, the term “expression construct” is meant to include any type of genetic construct containing a nucleic acid coding for a gene product in which part or all of the nucleic acid encoding sequence is capable of being transcribed. The transcript may be translated into a protein, but it need not be. In certain embodiments, expression includes both transcription of a gene and translation of mRNA into a gene product. In other embodiments, expression only includes transcription of the nucleic acid encoding a gene of interest.

The term “vector” is used to refer to a carrier nucleic acid molecule into which a nucleic acid sequence can be inserted for introduction into a cell where it can be replicated. A nucleic acid sequence can be “exogenous,” which means that it is foreign to the cell into which the vector is being introduced or that the sequence is homologous to a sequence in the cell but in a position within the host cell nucleic acid in which the sequence is ordinarily not found. Vectors include plasmids, cosmids, viruses (bacteriophage, animal viruses, and plant viruses), and artificial chromosomes (e.g., YACs). One of skill in the art would be well equipped to construct a vector through standard recombinant techniques, which are described in Maniatis et al., 1988 and Ausubel et al., 1994, both incorporated herein by reference.

The term “expression vector” refers to a vector containing a nucleic acid sequence coding for at least part of a gene product capable of being transcribed. In some cases, RNA molecules are then translated into a protein, polypeptide, or peptide. In other cases, these sequences are not translated, for example, in the production of antisense molecules or ribozymes. Expression vectors can contain a variety of “control sequences,” which refer to nucleic acid sequences necessary for the transcription and possibly translation of an operably linked coding sequence in a particular host organism. In addition to control sequences that govern transcription and translation, vectors and expression vectors may contain nucleic acid sequences that serve other functions as well and are described infra.

(i) Regulatory Elements

A “promoter” is a control sequence that is a region of a nucleic acid sequence at which initiation and rate of transcription are controlled. It may contain genetic elements at which regulatory proteins and molecules may bind such as RNA polymerase and other transcription factors. The phrases “operatively positioned,” “operatively linked,” “under control,” and “under transcriptional control” mean that a promoter is in a correct functional location and/or orientation in relation to a nucleic acid sequence to control transcriptional initiation and/or expression of that sequence. A promoter may or may not be used in conjunction with an “enhancer,” which refers to a cis-acting regulatory sequence involved in the transcriptional activation of a nucleic acid sequence.

A promoter may be one naturally associated with a gene or sequence, as may be obtained by isolating the 5′ non-coding sequences located upstream of the coding segment and/or exon. Such a promoter can be referred to as “endogenous.” Similarly, an enhancer may be one naturally associated with a nucleic acid sequence, located either downstream or upstream of that sequence. Alternatively, certain advantages will be gained by positioning the coding nucleic acid segment under the control of a recombinant or heterologous promoter, which refers to a promoter that is not normally associated with a nucleic acid sequence in its natural environment. A recombinant or heterologous enhancer refers also to an enhancer not normally associated with a nucleic acid sequence in its natural environment. Such promoters or enhancers may include promoters or enhancers of other genes, and promoters or enhancers isolated from any other prokaryotic, viral, or eukaryotic cell, and promoters or enhancers not “naturally occurring,” i.e., containing different elements of different transcriptional regulatory regions, and/or mutations that alter expression. In addition to producing nucleic acid sequences of promoters and enhancers synthetically, sequences may be produced using recombinant cloning and/or nucleic acid amplification technology, including PCR™, in connection with the compositions disclosed herein (see U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,683,202, 5,928,906, each incorporated herein by reference). Furthermore, it is contemplated the control sequences that direct transcription and/or expression of sequences within non-nuclear organelles such as mitochondria, chloroplasts, and the like, can be employed as well.

Naturally, it will be important to employ a promoter and/or enhancer that effectively directs the expression of the DNA segment in the cell type, organelle, and organism chosen for expression. Those of skill in the art of molecular biology generally know the use of promoters, enhancers, and cell type combinations for protein expression, for example, see Sambrook et al. (1989), incorporated herein by reference. The promoters employed may be constitutive, tissue-specific, inducible, and/or useful under the appropriate conditions to direct high level expression of the introduced DNA segment, such as is advantageous in the large-scale production of recombinant proteins and/or peptides. The promoter may be heterologous or endogenous.

Tables 3 lists several elements/promoters that may be employed, in the context of the present invention, to regulate the expression of a gene. This list is not intended to be exhaustive of all the possible elements involved in the promotion of expression but, merely, to be exemplary thereof Table 4 provides examples of inducible elements, which are regions of a nucleic acid sequence that can be activated in response to a specific stimulus.

TABLE 3 Promoter and/or Enhancer Promoter/Enhancer References Immunoglobulin Heavy Chain Banerji et al., 1983; Gilles et al., 1983; Grosschedl et al., 1985; Atchinson et al., 1986, 1987; Imler et al., 1987; Weinberger et al., 1984; Kiledjian et al., 1988; Porton et al.; 1990 Immunoglobulin Light Chain Queen et al., 1983; Picard et al., 1984 T-Cell Receptor Luria et al., 1987; Winoto et al., 1989; Redondo et al.; 1990 HLA DQ a and/or DQ β Sullivan et al., 1987 β-Interferon Goodbourn et al., 1986; Fujita et al., 1987; Goodbourn et al., 1988 Interleukin-2 Greene et al., 1989 Interleukin-2 Receptor Greene et al., 1989; Lin et al., 1990 MHC Class II 5 Koch et al., 1989 MHC Class II HLA-DRa Sherman et al., 1989 β-Actin Kawamoto et al., 1988; Ng et al.; 1989 Muscle Creatine Kinase (MCK) Jaynes et al., 1988; Horlick et al., 1989; Johnson et al., 1989 Prealbumin (Transthyretin) Costa et al., 1988 Elastase I Omitz et al., 1987 Metallothionein (MTII) Karin et al., 1987; Culotta et al., 1989 Collagenase Pinkert et al., 1987; Angel et al., 1987 Albumin Pinkert et al., 1987; Tronche et al., 1989, 1990 α-Fetoprotein Godbout et al., 1988; Campere et al., 1989 t-Globin Bodine et al., 1987; Perez-Stable et al., 1990 β-Globin Trudel et al., 1987 c-fos Cohen et al., 1987 c-HA-ras Triesman, 1986; Deschamps et al., 1985 Insulin Edlund et al., 1985 Neural Cell Adhesion Molecule Hirsh et al., 1990 (NCAM) α1-Antitrypain Latimer et al., 1990 H2B (TH2B) Histone Hwang et al., 1990 Mouse and/or Type I Collagen Ripe et al., 1989 Glucose-Regulated Proteins Chang et al., 1989 (GRP94 and GRP78) Rat Growth Hormone Larsen et al., 1986 Human Serum Amyloid A (SAA) Edbrooke et al., 1989 Troponin I (TN I) Yutzey et al., 1989 Platelet-Derived Growth Factor Pech et al., 1989 (PDGF) Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Klamut et al., 1990 SV40 Banerji et al., 1981; Moreau et al., 1981; Sleigh et al., 1985; Firak et al., 1986; Herr et al., 1986; Imbra et al., 1986; Kadesch et al., 1986; Wang et al., 1986; Ondek et al., 1987; Kuhl et al., 1987; Schaffner et al., 1988 Polyoma Swartzendruber et al., 1975; Vasseur et al., 1980; Katinka et al., 1980, 1981; Tyndell et al., 1981; Dandolo et al., 1983; de Villiers et al., 1984; Hen et al., 1986; Satake et al., 1988; Campbell and/or Villarreal, 1988 Retroviruses Kriegler et al., 1982, 1983; Levinson et al., 1982; Kriegler et al., 1983, 1984a, b, 1988; Bosze et al., 1986; Miksicek et al., 1986; Celander et al., 1987; Thiesen et al., 1988; Celander et al., 1988; Chol et al., 1988; Reisman et al., 1989 Papilloma Virus Campo et al., 1983; Lusky et al., 1983; Spandidos and/or Wilkie, 1983; Spalholz et al., 1985; Lusky et al., 1986; Cripe et al., 1987; Gloss et al., 1987; Hirochika et al., 1987; Stephens et al., 1987; Glue et al., 1988 Hepatitis B Virus Bulla et al., 1986; Jameel et al., 1986; Shaul et al., 1987; Spandau et al., 1988; Vannice et al., 1988 Human Immunodeficiency Virus Muesing et al., 1987; Hauber et al., 1988; Jakobovits et al., 1988; Feng et al., 1988; Takebe et al., 1988; Rosen et al., 1988; Berkhout et al., 1989; Laspia et al., 1989; Sharp et al., 1989; Braddock et al., 1989 Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Weber et al., 1984; Boshart et al., 1985; Foecking et al., 1986 Gibbon Ape Leukemia Virus Holbrook et al., 1987; Quinn et al., 1989

TABLE 4 Inducible Elements Element Inducer References MT II Phorbol Ester (TFA) Palmiter et al., 1982; Haslinger Heavy metals et al., 1985; Searle et al., 1985; Stuart et al., 1985; Imagawa et al., 1987, Karin et al., 1987; Angel et al., 1987b; McNeall et al., 1989 MMTV (mouse mammary Glucocorticoids Huang et al., 1981; Lee et al., tumor virus) 1981; Majors et al., 1983; Chandler et al., 1983; Lee et al., 1984; Ponta et al., 1985; Sakai et al., 1988 β-Interferon poly(rI)x Tavernier et al., 1983 poly(rc) Adenovirus 5 E2 ElA Imperiale et al., 1984 Collagenase Phorbol Ester (TPA) Angel et al., 1987a Stromelysin Phorbol Ester (TPA) Angel et al., 1987b SV40 Phorbol Ester (TPA) Angel et al., 1987b Murine MX Gene Interferon, Newcastle Hug et al., 1988 Disease Virus GRP78 Gene A23187 Resendez et al., 1988 α-2-Macroglobulin IL-6 Kunz et al., 1989 Vimentin Serum Rittling et al., 1989 MHC Class I Gene H-2κb Interferon Blanar et al., 1989 HSP70 ElA, SV40 Large T Taylor et al., 1989, 1990a, 1990b Antigen Proliferin Phorbol Ester-TPA Mordacq et al., 1989 Tumor Necrosis Factor PMA Hensel et al., 1989 Thyroid Stimulating Thyroid Hormone Chatterjee et al., 1989 Hormone α Gene

The identity of tissue-specific promoters or elements, as well as assays to characterize their activity, is well known to those of skill in the art. Examples of such regions include the human LIMK2 gene (Nomoto et al. 1999), the somatostatin receptor 2 gene (Kraus et al., 1998), murine epididymal retinoic acid-binding gene (Lareyre et al., 1999), human CD4 (Zhao-Emonet et al., 1998), mouse alpha2 (XI) collagen (Tsumaki, et al., 1998), D1A dopamine receptor gene (Lee, et al., 1997), insulin-like growth factor II (Wu et al., 1997), human platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1 (Almendro et al., 1996).

A specific initiation signal also may be required for efficient translation of coding sequences. These signals include the ATG initiation codon or adjacent sequences. Exogenous translational control signals, including the ATG initiation codon, may need to be provided. One of ordinary skill in the art would readily be capable of determining this and providing the necessary signals. It is well known that the initiation codon must be “in-frame” with the reading frame of the desired coding sequence to ensure translation of the entire insert. The exogenous translational control signals and initiation codons can be either natural or synthetic. The efficiency of expression may be enhanced by the inclusion of appropriate transcription enhancer elements.

(ii) IRES

In certain embodiments of the invention, the use of internal ribosome entry sites (IRES) elements are used to create multigene, or polycistronic, messages. IRES elements are able to bypass the ribosome scanning model of 5′ methylated Cap dependent translation and begin translation at internal sites (Pelletier and Sonenberg, 1988). IRES elements from two members of the picornavirus family (polio and encephalomyocarditis) have been described (Pelletier and Sonenberg, 1988), as well an IRES from a mammalian message (Macejak and Sarnow, 1991). IRES elements can be linked to heterologous open reading frames. Multiple open reading frames can be transcribed together, each separated by an IRES, creating polycistronic messages. By virtue of the IRES element, each open reading frame is accessible to ribosomes for efficient translation. Multiple genes can be efficiently expressed using a single promoter/enhancer to transcribe a single message (see U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,925,565 and 5,935,819, herein incorporated by reference).

(iii) Multi-Purpose Cloning Sites

Vectors can include a multiple cloning site (MCS), which is a nucleic acid region that contains multiple restriction enzyme sites, any of which can be used in conjunction with standard recombinant technology to digest the vector. See Carbonelli et al., 1999, Levenson et al., 1998, and Cocea, 1997, incorporated herein by reference. “Restriction enzyme digestion” refers to catalytic cleavage of a nucleic acid molecule with an enzyme that functions only at specific locations in a nucleic acid molecule. Many of these restriction enzymes are commercially available. Use of such enzymes is widely understood by those of skill in the art. Frequently, a vector is linearized or fragmented using a restriction enzyme that cuts within the MCS to enable exogenous sequences to be ligated to the vector. “Ligation” refers to the process of forming phosphodiester bonds between two nucleic acid fragments, which may or may not be contiguous with each other. Techniques involving restriction enzymes and ligation reactions are well known to those of skill in the art of recombinant technology.

(iv) Splicing Sites

Most transcribed eukaryotic RNA molecules will undergo RNA splicing to remove introns from the primary transcripts. Vectors containing genomic eukaryotic sequences may require donor and/or acceptor splicing sites to ensure proper processing of the transcript for protein expression. (See Chandler et al., 1997, herein incorporated by reference.)

(v) Termination Signals

The vectors or constructs of the present invention will generally comprise at least one termination signal. A “termination signal” or “terminator” is comprised of the DNA sequences involved in specific termination of an RNA transcript by an RNA polymerase. Thus, in certain embodiments a termination signal that ends the production of an RNA transcript is contemplated. A terminator may be necessary in vivo to achieve desirable message levels.

In eukaryotic systems, the terminator region may also comprise specific DNA sequences that permit site-specific cleavage of the new transcript so as to expose a polyadenylation site. This signals a specialized endogenous polymerase to add a stretch of about 200 A residues (polyA) to the 3′ end of the transcript. RNA molecules modified with this polyA tail appear to more stable and are translated more efficiently. Thus, in other embodiments involving eukaryotes, it is preferred that that terminator comprises a signal for the cleavage of the RNA, and it is more preferred that the terminator signal promotes polyadenylation of the message. The terminator and/or polyadenylation site elements can serve to enhance message levels and/or to minimize read through from the cassette into other sequences.

Terminators contemplated for use in the invention include any known terminator of transcription described herein or known to one of ordinary skill in the art, including but not limited to, for example, the termination sequences of genes, such as for example the bovine growth hormone terminator or viral termination sequences, such as for example the SV40 terminator. In certain embodiments, the termination signal may be a lack of transcribable or translatable sequence, such as due to a sequence truncation.

(vi) Polyadenylation Signals

In expression, particularly eukaryotic expression, one will typically include a polyadenylation signal to effect proper polyadenylation of the transcript. The nature of the polyadenylation signal is not believed to be crucial to the successful practice of the invention, and/or any such sequence may be employed. Preferred embodiments include the SV40 polyadenylation signal and/or the bovine growth hormone polyadenylation signal, convenient and/or known to function well in various target cells. Polyadenylation may increase the stability of the transcript or may facilitate cytoplasmic transport.

(vii) Origins of Replication

In order to propagate a vector in a host cell, it may contain one or more origins of replication sites (often termed “ori”), which is a specific nucleic acid sequence at which replication is initiated. Alternatively an autonomously replicating sequence (ARS) can be employed if the host cell is yeast.

(viii) Selectable and Screenable Markers

In certain embodiments of the invention, cells containing a nucleic acid construct of the present invention may be identified in vitro or in vivo by including a marker in the expression vector. Such markers would confer an identifiable change to the cell permitting easy identification of cells containing the expression vector. Generally, a selectable marker is one that confers a property that allows for selection. A positive selectable marker is one in which the presence of the marker allows for its selection, while a negative selectable marker is one in which its presence prevents its selection. An example of a positive selectable marker is a drug resistance marker.

Usually the inclusion of a drug selection marker aids in the cloning and identification of transformants, for example, genes that confer resistance to neomycin, puromycin, hygromycin, DHFR, GPT, zeocin and histidinol are useful selectable markers. In addition to markers conferring a phenotype that allows for the discrimination of transformants based on the implementation of conditions, other types of markers including screenable markers such as GFP, whose basis is colorimetric analysis, are also contemplated. Alternatively, screenable enzymes such as herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase (tk) or chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) may be utilized. One of skill in the art would also know how to employ immunologic markers, possibly in conjunction with FACS analysis. The marker used is not believed to be important, so long as it is capable of being expressed simultaneously with the nucleic acid encoding a gene product. Further examples of selectable and screenable markers are well known to one of skill in the art.

(ix) Viral Vectors

The capacity of certain viral vectors to efficiently infect or enter cells, to integrate into a host cell genome and stably express viral genes, have led to the development and application of a number of different viral vector systems (Robbins et al., 1998). Viral systems are currently being developed for use as vectors for ex vivo and in vivo gene transfer. For example, adenovirus, herpes-simplex virus, retrovirus and adeno-associated virus vectors are being evaluated currently for treatment of diseases such as cancer, cystic fibrosis, Gaucher disease, renal disease and arthritis (Robbins and Ghivizzani, 1998; Imai et al., 1998; U.S. Pat. No. 5,670,488). The various viral vectors described below, present specific advantages and disadvantages, depending on the particular gene-therapeutic application.

Adenoviral Vectors: In particular embodiments, an adenoviral expression vector is contemplated for the delivery of expression constructs. “Adenovirus expression vector” is meant to include those constructs containing adenovirus sequences sufficient to (a) support packaging of the construct and (b) to ultimately express a tissue or cell-specific construct that has been cloned therein.

Adenoviruses comprise linear, double-stranded DNA, with a genome ranging from 30 to 35 kb in size (Reddy et al., 1998; Morrison et al., 1997; Chillon et al., 1999). An adenovirus expression vector according to the present invention comprises a genetically engineered form of the adenovirus. Advantages of adenoviral gene transfer include the ability to infect a wide variety of cell types, including non-dividing cells, a mid-sized genome, ease of manipulation, high infectivity and the ability to be grown to high titers (Wilson, 1996). Further, adenoviral infection of host cells does not result in chromosomal integration because adenoviral DNA can replicate in an episomal manner, without potential genotoxicity associated with other viral vectors. Adenoviruses also are structurally stable (Marienfeld et al., 1999) and no genome rearrangement has been detected after extensive amplification (Parks et al., 1997; Bett et al., 1993).

Salient features of the adenovirus genome are an early region (E1, E2, E3 and E4 genes), an intermediate region (pIX gene, Iva2 gene), a late region (L1, L2, L3, L4 and L5 genes), a major late promoter (MLP), inverted-terminal-repeats (ITRs) and a ψ sequence (Zheng, et al., 1999; Robbins et al., 1998; Graham and Prevec, 1995). The early genes E1, E2, E3 and E4 are expressed from the virus after infection and encode polypeptides that regulate viral gene expression, cellular gene expression, viral replication, and inhibition of cellular apoptosis. Further on during viral infection, the MLP is activated, resulting in the expression of the late (L) genes, encoding polypeptides required for adenovirus encapsidation. The intermediate region encodes components of the adenoviral capsid. Adenoviral inverted terminal repeats (ITRs; 100–200 bp in length), are cis elements, and function as origins of replication and are necessary for viral DNA replication. The ψ sequence is required for the packaging of the adenoviral genome.

A common approach for generating an adenoviruses for use as a gene transfer vector is the deletion of the E1 gene (E1), which is involved in the induction of the E2, E3 and E4 promoters (Graham and Prevec, 1995). Subsequently, a therapeutic gene or genes can be inserted recombinantly in place of the E1 gene, wherein expression of the therapeutic gene(s) is driven by the E1 promoter or a heterologous promoter. The E1, replication-deficient virus is then proliferated in a “helper” cell line that provides the E1 polypeptides in trans (e.g., the human embryonic kidney cell line 293). Thus, in the present invention it may be convenient to introduce the transforming construct at the position from which the E1-coding sequences have been removed. However, the position of insertion of the construct within the adenovirus sequences is not critical to the invention. Alternatively, the E3 region, portions of the E4 region or both may be deleted, wherein a heterologous nucleic acid sequence under the control of a promoter operable in eukaryotic cells is inserted into the adenovirus genome for use in gene transfer (U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,670,488; 5,932,210, each specifically incorporated herein by reference).

Although adenovirus based vectors offer several unique advantages over other vector systems, they often are limited by vector immunogenicity, size constraints for insertion of recombinant genes and low levels of replication. The preparation of a recombinant adenovirus vector deleted of all open reading frames, comprising a full length dystrophin gene and the terminal repeats required for replication (Haecker et al., 1997) offers some potentially promising advantages to the above mentioned adenoviral shortcomings. The vector was grown to high titer with a helper virus in 293 cells and was capable of efficiently transducing dystrophin in mdx mice, in myotubes in vitro and muscle fibers in vivo. Helper-dependent viral vectors are discussed below.

A major concern in using adenoviral vectors is the generation of a replication-competent virus during vector production in a packaging cell line or during gene therapy treatment of an individual. The generation of a replication-competent virus could pose serious threat of an unintended viral infection and pathological consequences for the patient. Armentano et al., describe the preparation of a replication-defective adenovirus vector, claimed to eliminate the potential for the inadvertent generation of a replication-competent adenovirus (U.S. Pat. No. 5,824,544, specifically incorporated herein by reference). The replication-defective adenovirus method comprises a deleted E1 region and a relocated protein IX gene, wherein the vector expresses a heterologous, mammalian gene.

Other than the requirement that the adenovirus vector be replication defective, or at least conditionally defective, the nature of the adenovirus vector is not believed to be crucial to the successful practice of the invention. The adenovirus may be of any of the 42 different known serotypes and/or subgroups A–F. Adenovirus type 5 of subgroup C is the preferred starting material in order to obtain the conditional replication-defective adenovirus vector for use in the present invention. This is because adenovirus type 5 is a human adenovirus about which a great deal of biochemical and genetic information is known, and it has historically been used for most constructions employing adenovirus as a vector.

As stated above, the typical vector according to the present invention is replication defective and will not have an adenovirus E1 region. Adenovirus growth and manipulation is known to those of skill in the art, and exhibits broad host range in vitro and in vivo (U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,670,488; 5,932,210; 5,824,54). This group of viruses can be obtained in high titers, e.g., 109 to 1011 plaque-forming units per ml, and they are highly infective. The life cycle of adenovirus does not require integration into the host cell genome. The foreign genes delivered by adenovirus vectors are episomal and, therefore, have low genotoxicity to host cells. Many experiments, innovations, preclinical studies and clinical trials are currently under investigation for the use of adenoviruses as gene delivery vectors. For example, adenoviral gene delivery-based gene therapies are being developed for liver diseases (Han et al., 1999), psychiatric diseases (Lesch, 1999), neurological diseases (Smith, 1998; Hermens and Verhaagen, 1998), coronary diseases (Feldman et al., 1996), muscular diseases (Petrof, 1998), gastrointestinal diseases (Wu, 1998) and various cancers such as colorectal (Fujiwara and Tanaka, 1998; Dorai et al., 1999), pancreatic, bladder (Irie et al., 1999), head and neck (Blackwell et al., 1999), breast (Stewart et al., 1999), lung (Batra et al., 1999) and ovarian (Vanderkwaak et al., 1999).

Retroviral Vectors: In certain embodiments of the invention, the use of retroviruses for gene delivery are contemplated. Retroviruses are RNA viruses comprising an RNA genome. When a host cell is infected by a retrovirus, the genomic RNA is reverse transcribed into a DNA intermediate which is integrated into the chromosomal DNA of infected cells. This integrated DNA intermediate is referred to as a provirus. A particular advantage of retroviruses is that they can stably infect dividing cells with a gene of interest (e.g., a therapeutic gene) by integrating into the host DNA, without expressing immunogenic viral proteins. Theoretically, the integrated retroviral vector will be maintained for the life of the infected host cell, expressing the gene of interest.

The retroviral genome and the proviral DNA have three genes: gag, pol, and env, which are flanked by two long terminal repeat (LTR) sequences. The gag gene encodes the internal structural (matrix, capsid, and nucleocapsid) proteins; the pol gene encodes the RNA-directed DNA polymerase (reverse transcriptase) and the env gene encodes viral envelope glycoproteins. The 5′ and 3′ LTRs serve to promote transcription and polyadenylation of the virion RNAs. The LTR contains all other cis-acting sequences necessary for viral replication.

A recombinant retrovirus of the present invention may be genetically modified in such a way that some of the structural, infectious genes of the native virus have been removed and replaced instead with a nucleic acid sequence to be delivered to a target cell (U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,858,744; 5,739,018, each incorporated herein by reference). After infection of a cell by the virus, the virus injects its nucleic acid into the cell and the retrovirus genetic material can integrate into the host cell genome. The transferred retrovirus genetic material is then transcribed and translated into proteins within the host cell. As with other viral vector systems, the generation of a replication-competent retrovirus during vector production or during therapy is a major concern. Retroviral vectors suitable for use in the present invention are generally defective retroviral vectors that are capable of infecting the target cell, reverse transcribing their RNA genomes, and integrating the reverse transcribed DNA into the target cell genome, but are incapable of replicating within the target cell to produce infectious retroviral particles (e.g., the retroviral genome transferred into the target cell is defective in gag, the gene encoding virion structural proteins, and/or in pol, the gene encoding reverse transcriptase). Thus, transcription of the provirus and assembly into infectious virus occurs in the presence of an appropriate helper virus or in a cell line containing appropriate sequences enabling encapsidation without coincident production of a contaminating helper virus.

The growth and maintenance of retroviruses is known in the art (U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,955,331; 5,888,502, each specifically incorporated herein by reference) Nolan et al. describe the production of stable high titre, helper-free retrovirus comprising a heterologous gene (U.S. Pat. No. 5,830,725, specifically incorporated herein by reference). Methods for constructing packaging cell lines useful for the generation of helper-free recombinant retroviruses with amphoteric or ecotrophic host ranges, as well as methods of using the recombinant retroviruses to introduce a gene of interest into eukaryotic cells in vivo and in vitro are contemplated in the present invention (U.S. Pat. No. 5,955,331).

Currently, the majority of all clinical trials for vector-mediated gene delivery use murine leukemia virus (MLV)-based retroviral vector gene delivery (Robbins et al., 1998; Miller et al., 1993). Disadvantages of retroviral gene delivery includes a requirement for ongoing cell division for stable infection and a coding capacity that prevents the delivery of large genes. However, recent development of vectors such as lentivirus (e.g., HIV), simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) and equine infectious-anemia virus (EIAV), which can infect certain non-dividing cells, potentially allow the in vivo use of retroviral vectors for gene therapy applications (Amado and Chen, 1999; Kimatcheva et al., 1999; White et al., 1999; Case et al., 1999). For example, HIV-based vectors have been used to infect non-dividing cells such as neurons (Miyatake et al., 1999), islets (Leibowitz et al., 1999) and muscle cells (Johnston et al., 1999). The therapeutic delivery of genes via retroviruses are currently being assessed for the treatment of various disorders such as inflammatory disease (Moldawer et al., 1999), AIDS (Amado et al, 1999; Engel and Kohn, 1999), cancer (Clay et al., 1999), cerebrovascular disease (Weihl et al., 1999) and hemophilia (Kay, 1998).

Herpesviral Vectors: Herpes simplex virus (HSV) type I and type II contain a double-stranded, linear DNA genome of approximately 150 kb, encoding 70–80 genes. Wild type HSV are able to infect cells lytically and to establish latency in certain cell types (e.g., neurons). Similar to adenovirus, HSV also can infect a variety of cell types including muscle (Yeung et al., 1999), ear (Derby et al., 1999), eye (Kaufman et al., 1999), tumors (Yoon et al., 1999; Howard et al., 1999), lung (Kohut et al., 1998), neuronal (Garrido et al., 1999; Lachmann and Efstathiou, 1999), liver (Miytake et al., 1999; Kooby et al., 1999) and pancreatic islets (Rabinovitch et al., 1999).

HSV viral genes are transcribed by cellular RNA polymerase II and are temporally regulated, resulting in the transcription and subsequent synthesis of gene products in roughly three discernable phases or kinetic classes. These phases of genes are referred to as the Immediate Early (IE) or alpha genes, Early (E) or beta genes and Late (L) or gamma genes. Immediately following the arrival of the genome of a virus in the nucleus of a newly infected cell, the IE genes are transcribed. The efficient expression of these genes does not require prior viral protein synthesis. The products of IE genes are required to activate transcription and regulate the remainder of the viral genome.

For use in therapeutic gene delivery, HSV must be rendered replication-defective. Protocols for generating replication-defective HSV helper virus-free cell lines have been described (U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,879,934; 5,851,826, each specifically incorporated herein by reference in its entirety). One IE protein, Infected Cell Polypeptide 4 (ICP4), also known as alpha 4 or Vmw175, is absolutely required for both virus infectivity and the transition from IE to later transcription. Thus, due to its complex, multifunctional nature and central role in the regulation of HSV gene expression, ICP4 has typically been the target of HSV genetic studies.

Phenotypic studies of HSV viruses deleted of ICP4 indicate that such viruses will be potentially useful for gene transfer purposes (Krisky et al., 1998a). One property of viruses deleted for ICP4 that makes them desirable for gene transfer is that they only express the five other IE genes: ICP0, ICP6, ICP27, ICP22 and ICP47 (DeLuca et al., 1985), without the expression of viral genes encoding proteins that direct viral DNA synthesis, as well as the structural proteins of the virus. This property is desirable for minimizing possible deleterious effects on host cell metabolism or an immune response following gene transfer. Further deletion of IE genes ICP22 and ICP27, in addition to ICP4, substantially improve reduction of HSV cytotoxicity and prevented early and late viral gene expression (Krisky et al., 1998b).

The therapeutic potential of HSV in gene transfer has been demonstrated in various in vitro model systems and in vivo for diseases such as Parkinson's (Yamada et al., 1999), retinoblastoma (Hayashi et al., 1999), intracerebral and intradermal tumors (Moriuchi et al., 1998), B cell malignancies (Suzuki et al., 1998), ovarian cancer (Wang et al., 1998) and Duchenne muscular dystrophy (Huard et al., 1997).

Adeno-Associated Viral Vectors: Adeno-associated virus (AAV), a member of the parvovirus family, is a human virus that is increasingly being used for gene delivery therapeutics. AAV has several advantageous features not found in other viral systems. First, AAV can infect a wide range of host cells, including non-dividing cells. Second, AAV can infect cells from different species. Third, AAV has not been associated with any human or animal disease and does not appear to alter the biological properties of the host cell upon integration. For example, it is estimated that 80–85% of the human population has been exposed to AAV. Finally, AAV is stable at a wide range of physical and chemical conditions which lends itself to production, storage and transportation requirements.

The AAV genome is a linear, single-stranded DNA molecule containing 4681 nucleotides. The AAV genome generally comprises an internal non-repeating genome flanked on each end by inverted terminal repeats (ITRs) of approximately 145 bp in length. The ITRs have multiple functions, including origins of DNA replication, and as packaging signals for the viral genome. The internal non-repeated portion of the genome includes two large open reading frames, known as the AAV replication (rep) and capsid (cap) genes. The rep and cap genes code for viral proteins that allow the virus to replicate and package the viral genome into a virion. A family of at least four viral proteins are expressed from the AAV rep region, Rep 78, Rep 68, Rep 52, and Rep 40, named according to their apparent molecular weight. The AAV cap region encodes at least three proteins, VP1, VP2, and VP3.

AAV is a helper-dependent virus requiring co-infection with a helper virus (e.g., adenovirus, herpesvirus or vaccinia) in order to form AAV virions. In the absence of co-infection with a helper virus, AAV establishes a latent state in which the viral genome inserts into a host cell chromosome, but infectious virions are not produced. Subsequent infection by a helper virus “rescues” the integrated genome, allowing it to replicate and package its genome into infectious AAV virions. Although AAV can infect cells from different species, the helper virus must be of the same species as the host cell (e.g., human AAV will replicate in canine cells co-infected with a canine adenovirus).

AAV has been engineered to deliver genes of interest by deleting the internal non-repeating portion of the AAV genome and inserting a heterologous gene between the ITRs. The heterologous gene may be functionally linked to a heterologous promoter (constitutive, cell-specific, or inducible) capable of driving gene expression in target cells. To produce infectious recombinant AAV (rAAV) containing a heterologous gene, a suitable producer cell line is transfected with a rAAV vector containing a heterologous gene. The producer cell is concurrently transfected with a second plasmid harboring the AAV rep and cap genes under the control of their respective endogenous promoters or heterologous promoters. Finally, the producer cell is infected with a helper virus.

Once these factors come together, the heterologous gene is replicated and packaged as though it were a wild-type AAV genome. When target cells are infected with the resulting rAAV virions, the heterologous gene enters and is expressed in the target cells. Because the target cells lack the rep and cap genes and the adenovirus helper genes, the rAAV cannot further replicate, package or form wild-type AAV.

The use of helper virus, however, presents a number of problems. First, the use of adenovirus in a rAAV production system causes the host cells to produce both rAAV and infectious adenovirus. The contaminating infectious adenovirus can be inactivated by heat treatment (56° C. for 1 hour). Heat treatment, however, results in approximately a 50% drop in the titer of functional rAAV virions. Second, varying amounts of adenovirus proteins are present in these preparations. For example, approximately 50% or greater of the total protein obtained in such rAAV virion preparations is free adenovirus fiber protein. If not completely removed, these adenovirus proteins have the potential of eliciting an immune response from the patient. Third, AAV vector production methods which employ a helper virus require the use and manipulation of large amounts of high titer infectious helper virus, which presents a number of health and safety concerns, particularly in regard to the use of a herpesvirus. Fourth, concomitant production of helper virus particles in rAAV virion producing cells diverts large amounts of host cellular resources away from rAAV virion production, potentially resulting in lower rAAV virion yields.

Lentiviral Vectors: Lentiviruses are complex retroviruses, which, in addition to the common retroviral genes gag, pol, and env, contain other genes with regulatory or structural function. The higher complexity enables the virus to modulate its life cycle, as in the course of latent infection. Some examples of lentivirus include the Human Immunodeficiency Viruses: HIV-1, HIV-2 and the Simian Immunodeficiency Virus: SIV. Lentiviral vectors have been generated by multiply attenuating the HIV virulence genes, for example, the genes env, vif; vpr, vpu and nef are deleted making the vector biologically safe.

Recombinant lentiviral vectors are capable of infecting non-dividing cells and can be used for both in vivo and ex vivo gene transfer and expression of nucleic acid sequences. The lentiviral genome and the proviral DNA have the three genes found in retroviruses: gag, pol and env, which are flanked by two long terminal repeat (LTR) sequences. The gag gene encodes the internal structural (matrix, capsid and nucleocapsid) proteins; the pol gene encodes the RNA-directed DNA polymerase (reverse transcriptase), a protease and an integrase; and the env gene encodes viral envelope glycoproteins. The 5′ and 3′ LTR's serve to promote transcription and polyadenylation of the virion RNA's. The LTR contains all other cis-acting sequences necessary for viral replication. Lentiviruses have additional genes including vif, vpr, tat, rev, vpu, nef and vpx.

Adjacent to the 5′ LTR are sequences necessary for reverse transcription of the genome (the tRNA primer binding site) and for efficient encapsidation of viral RNA into particles (the Psi site). If the sequences necessary for encapsidation (or packaging of retroviral RNA into infectious virions) are missing from the viral genome, the cis defect prevents encapsidation of genomic RNA. However, the resulting mutant remains capable of directing the synthesis of all virion proteins.

Lentiviral vectors are known in the art, see Naldini et al., (1996); Zufferey et al., (1997); U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,013,516;and 5,994,136. In general, the vectors are plasmid-based or virus-based, and are configured to carry the essential sequences for incorporating foreign nucleic acid, for selection and for transfer of the nucleic acid into a host cell. The gag, pol and env genes of the vectors of interest also are known in the art. Thus, the relevant genes are cloned into the selected vector and then used to transform the target cell of interest.

Recombinant lentivirus capable of infecting a non-dividing cell wherein a suitable host cell is transfected with two or more vectors carrying the packaging functions, namely gag, pol and env, as well as rev and tat is described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,994,136, incorporated herein by reference. This describes a first vector that can provide a nucleic acid encoding a viral gag and a pol gene and another vector that can provide a nucleic acid encoding a viral env to produce a packaging cell. Introducing a vector providing a heterologous gene, such as the STAT-1α gene in this invention, into that packaging cell yields a producer cell which releases infectious viral particles carrying the foreign gene of interest. The env preferably is an amphotropic envelope protein which allows transduction of cells of human and other species.

One may target the recombinant virus by linkage of the envelope protein with an antibody or a particular ligand for targeting to a receptor of a particular cell-type. By inserting a sequence (including a regulatory region) of interest into the viral vector, along with another gene which encodes the ligand for a receptor on a specific target cell, for example, the vector is now target-specific.

The vector providing the viral env nucleic acid sequence is associated operably with regulatory sequences, e.g., a promoter or enhancer. The regulatory sequence can be any eukaryotic promoter or enhancer, including for example, the Moloney murine leukemia virus promoter-enhancer element, the human cytomegalovirus enhancer or the vaccinia P7.5 promoter. In some cases, such as the Moloney murine leukemia virus promoter-enhancer element, the promoter-enhancer elements are located within or adjacent to the LTR sequences.

The heterologous or foreign nucleic acid sequence, such as the STAT-1α encoding polynucleotide sequence herein, is linked operably to a regulatory nucleic acid sequence. Preferably, the heterologous sequence is linked to a promoter, resulting in a chimeric gene. The heterologous nucleic acid sequence may also be under control of either the viral LTR promoter-enhancer signals or of an internal promoter, and retained signals within the retroviral LTR can still bring about efficient expression of the transgene. Marker genes may be utilized to assay for the presence of the vector, and thus, to confirm infection and integration. The presence of a marker gene ensures the selection and growth of only those host cells which express the inserts. Typical selection genes encode proteins that confer resistance to antibiotics and other toxic substances, e.g., histidinol, puromycin, hygromycin, neomycin, methotrexate, etc., and cell surface markers.

The vectors are introduced via transfection or infection into the packaging cell line. The packaging cell line produces viral particles that contain the vector genome. Methods for transfection or infection are well known by those of skill in the art. After cotransfection of the packaging vectors and the transfer vector to the packaging cell line, the recombinant virus is recovered from the culture media and titered by standard methods used by those of skill in the art. Thus, the packaging constructs can be introduced into human cell lines by calcium phosphate transfection, lipofection or electroporation, generally together with a dominant selectable marker, such as neo, DHFR, Gln synthetase or ADA, followed by selection in the presence of the appropriate drug and isolation of clones. The selectable marker gene can be linked physically to the packaging genes in the construct.

Lentiviral transfer vectors Naldini et al. (1996), have been used to infect human cells growth-arrested in vitro and to transduce neurons after direct injection into the brain of adult rats. The vector was efficient at transferring marker genes in vivo into the neurons and long term expression in the absence of detectable pathology was achieved. Animals analyzed ten months after a single injection of the vector showed no decrease in the average level of transgene expression and no sign of tissue pathology or immune reaction (Blomer et al., 1997). Thus, in the present invention, one may graft or transplant cells infected with the recombinant lentivirus ex vivo, or infect cells in vivo.

Other Viral Vectors: The development and utility of viral vectors for gene delivery is constantly improving and evolving. Other viral vectors such as poxvirus; e.g., vaccinia virus (Gnant et al., 1999; Gnant et al., 1999), alpha virus; e.g., sindbis virus, Semliki forest virus (Lundstrom, 1999), reovirus (Coffey et al., 1998) and influenza A virus (Neumann et al., 1999) are contemplated for use in the present invention and may be selected according to the requisite properties of the target system.

In certain embodiments, vaccinia viral vectors are contemplated for use in the present invention. Vaccinia virus is a particularly useful eukaryotic viral vector system for expressing heterologous genes. For example, when recombinant vaccinia virus is properly engineered, the proteins are synthesized, processed and transported to the plasma membrane. Vaccinia viruses as gene delivery vectors have recently been demonstrated to transfer genes to human tumor cells, e.g., EMAP-II (Gnant et al., 1999), inner ear (Derby et al., 1999), glioma cells, e.g., p53 (Timiryasova et al., 1999) and various mammalian cells, e.g., P-450 (U.S. Pat. No. 5,506,138). The preparation, growth and manipulation of vaccinia viruses are described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,849,304 and 5,506,138 (each specifically incorporated herein by reference).

In other embodiments, sindbis viral vectors are contemplated for use in gene delivery. Sindbis virus is a species of the alphavirus genus (Garoff and Li, 1998) which includes such important pathogens as Venezuelan, Western and Eastern equine encephalitis viruses (Sawai et al., 1999; Mastrangelo et al., 1999). In vitro, sindbis virus infects a variety of avian, mammalian, reptilian, and amphibian cells. The genome of sindbis virus consists of a single molecule of single-stranded RNA, 11,703 nucleotides in length. The genomic RNA is infectious, is capped at the 5′ terminus and polyadenylated at the 3′ terminus, and serves as mRNA. Translation of a vaccinia virus 26S mRNA produces a polyprotein that is cleaved co- and post-translationally by a combination of viral and presumably host-encoded proteases to give the three virus structural proteins, a capsid protein (C) and the two envelope glycoproteins (E1 and PE2, precursors of the virion E2).

Three features of sindbis virus suggest that it would be a useful vector for the expression of heterologous genes. First, its wide host range, both in nature and in the laboratory. Second, gene expression occurs in the cytoplasm of the host cell and is rapid and efficient. Third, temperature-sensitive mutations in RNA synthesis are available that may be used to modulate the expression of heterologous coding sequences by simply shifting cultures to the non-permissive temperature at various time after infection. The growth and maintenance of sindbis virus is known in the art (U.S. Pat. No. 5,217,879, specifically incorporated herein by reference).

Chimeric Viral Vectors: Chimeric or hybrid viral vectors are being developed for use in therapeutic gene delivery and are contemplated for use in the present invention. Chimeric poxviral/retroviral vectors (Holzer et al., 1999), adenoviral/retroviral vectors (Feng et al., 1997; Bilbao et al., 1997; Caplen et al., 1999) and adenoviral/adeno-associated viral vectors (Fisher et al., 1996; U.S. Pat. No. 5,871,982) have been described.

These “chimeric” viral gene transfer systems can exploit the favorable features of two or more parent viral species. For example, Wilson et al., provide a chimeric vector construct which comprises a portion of an adenovirus, AAV 5′ and 3′ ITR sequences and a selected transgene, described below (U.S. Pat. No. 5,871,983, specifically incorporate herein by reference).

The adenovirus/AAV chimeric virus uses adenovirus nucleic acid sequences as a shuttle to deliver a recombinant AAV/transgene genome to a target cell. The adenovirus nucleic acid sequences employed in the hybrid vector can range from a minimum sequence amount, which requires the use of a helper virus to produce the hybrid virus particle, to only selected deletions of adenovirus genes, which deleted gene products can be supplied in the hybrid viral production process by a selected packaging cell. At a minimum, the adenovirus nucleic acid sequences employed in the pAdA shuttle vector are adenovirus genomic sequences from which all viral genes are deleted and which contain only those adenovirus sequences required for packaging adenoviral genomic DNA into a preformed capsid head. More specifically, the adenovirus sequences employed are the cis-acting 5′ and 3′ inverted terminal repeat (ITR) sequences of an adenovirus (which function as origins of replication) and the native 5′ packaging/enhancer domain, that contains sequences necessary for packaging linear Ad genomes and enhancer elements for the E1 promoter. The adenovirus sequences may be modified to contain desired deletions, substitutions, or mutations, provided that the desired function is not eliminated.

The AAV sequences useful in the above chimeric vector are the viral sequences from which the rep and cap polypeptide encoding sequences are deleted. More specifically, the AAV sequences employed are the cis-acting 5′ and 3′ inverted terminal repeat (ITR) sequences. These chimeras are characterized by high titer transgene delivery to a host cell and the ability to stably integrate the transgene into the host cell chromosome (U.S. Pat. No. 5,871,983, specifically incorporate herein by reference). In the hybrid vector construct, the AAV sequences are flanked by the selected adenovirus sequences discussed above. The 5′ and 3′ AAV ITR sequences themselves flank a selected transgene sequence and associated regulatory elements, described below. Thus, the sequence formed by the transgene and flanking 5′ and 3′ AAV sequences may be inserted at any deletion site in the adenovirus sequences of the vector. For example, the AAV sequences are desirably inserted at the site of the deleted E1 a/E1 b genes of the adenovirus. Alternatively, the AAV sequences may be inserted at an E3 deletion, E2a deletion, and so on. If only the adenovirus 5′ ITR/packaging sequences and 3′ ITR sequences are used in the hybrid virus, the AAV sequences are inserted between them.

The transgene sequence of the vector and recombinant virus can be a gene, a nucleic acid sequence or reverse transcript thereof, heterologous to the adenovirus sequence, which encodes a protein, polypeptide or peptide fragment of interest. The transgene is operatively linked to regulatory components in a manner which permits transgene transcription. The composition of the transgene sequence will depend upon the use to which the resulting hybrid vector will be put. For example, one type of transgene sequence includes a therapeutic gene which expresses a desired gene product in a host cell. These therapeutic genes or nucleic acid sequences typically encode products for administration and expression in a patient in vivo or ex vivo to replace or correct an inherited or non-inherited genetic defect or treat an epigenetic disorder or disease.

(x) Non-Viral Transformation

Suitable methods for nucleic acid delivery for transformation of an organelle, a cell, a tissue or an organism for use with the current invention are believed to include virtually any method by which a nucleic acid (e.g., DNA) can be introduced into an organelle, a cell, a tissue or an organism, as described herein or as would be known to one of ordinary skill in the art. Such methods include, but are not limited to, direct delivery of DNA such as by injection (U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,994,624, 5,981,274, 5,945,100, 5,780,448, 5,736,524, 5,702,932, 5,656,610, 5,589,466 and 5,580,859, each incorporated herein by reference), including microinjection (Harlan and Weintraub, 1985; U.S. Pat. No. 5,789,215, incorporated herein by reference); by electroporation (U.S. Pat. No. 5,384,253, incorporated herein by reference); by calcium phosphate precipitation (Graham and Van Der Eb, 1973; Chen and Okayama, 1987; Rippe et al., 1990); by using DEAE-dextran followed by polyethylene glycol (Gopal, 1985); by direct sonic loading (Fechheimer et al., 1987); by liposome mediated transfection (Nicolau and Sene, 1982; Fraley et al., 1979; Nicolau et al., 1987; Wong et al., 1980; Kaneda et al., 1989; Kato et al., 1991); by microprojectile bombardment (PCT Application Nos. WO 94/09699 and 95/06128; U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,610,042; 5,322,783 5,563,055, 5,550,318, 5,538,877 and 5,538,880, and each incorporated herein by reference); by agitation with silicon carbide fibers (Kaeppler et al., 1990; U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,302,523 and 5,464,765, each incorporated herein by reference); or by PEG-mediated transformation of protoplasts (Omirulleh et al., 1993; U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,684,611 and 4,952,500, each incorporated herein by reference); by desiccation/inhibition-mediated DNA uptake (Potrykus et al., 1985). Through the application of techniques such as these, organelle(s), cell(s), tissue(s) or organism(s) may be stably or transiently transformed.

Injection: In certain embodiments, a nucleic acid may be delivered to an organelle, a cell, a tissue or an organism via one or more injections (i.e., a needle injection), such as, for example, either subcutaneously, intradermally, intramuscularly, intervenously or intraperitoneally. Methods of injection of vaccines are well known to those of ordinary skill in the art (e.g., injection of a composition comprising a saline solution). Further embodiments of the present invention include the introduction of a nucleic acid by direct microinjection. Direct microinjection has been used to introduce nucleic acid constructs into Xenopus oocytes (Harland and Weintraub, 1985).

Electroporation: In certain embodiments of the present invention, a nucleic acid is introduced into an organelle, a cell, a tissue or an organism via electroporation. Electroporation involves the exposure of a suspension of cells and DNA to a high-voltage electric discharge. In some variants of this method, certain cell wall-degrading enzymes, such as pectin-degrading enzymes, are employed to render the target recipient cells more susceptible to transformation by electroporation than untreated cells (U.S. Pat. No. 5,384,253, incorporated herein by reference). Alternatively, recipient cells can be made more susceptible to transformation by mechanical wounding.

Transfection of eukaryotic cells using electroporation has been quite successful. Mouse pre-B lymphocytes have been transfected with human kappa-immunoglobulin genes (Potter et al., 1984), and rat hepatocytes have been transfected with the chloramphenicol acetyltransferase gene (Tur-Kaspa et al., 1986) in this manner.

To effect transformation by electroporation in cells such as, for example, plant cells, one may employ either friable tissues, such as a suspension culture of cells or embryogenic callus or alternatively one may transform immature embryos or other organized tissue directly. In this technique, one would partially degrade the cell walls of the chosen cells by exposing them to pectin-degrading enzymes (pectolyases) or mechanically wounding in a controlled manner. Examples of some species which have been transformed by electroporation of intact cells include maize (U.S. Pat. No. 5,384,253; Rhodes et al., 1995; D'Halluin et al, 1992), wheat (Zhou et al., 1993), tomato (Hou and Lin, 1996), soybean (Christou et al., 1987) and tobacco (Lee et al, 1989).

One also may employ protoplasts for electroporation transformation of plant cells (Bates, 1994; Lazzeri, 1995). For example, the generation of transgenic soybean plants by electroporation of cotyledon-derived protoplasts is described by Dhir and Widholm in International Patent Application No. WO 9217598, incorporated herein by reference. Other examples of species for which protoplast transformation has been described include barley (Lazerri, 1995), sorghum (Battraw et al., 1991), maize (Bhattacharjee et al., 1997), wheat (He et al, 1994) and tomato (Tsukada, 1989).

Calcium Phosphate: In other embodiments of the present invention, a nucleic acid is introduced to the cells using calcium phosphate precipitation. Human KB cells have been transfected with adenovirus 5 DNA (Graham and Van Der Eb, 1973) using this technique. Also in this manner, mouse L(A9), mouse C127, CHO, CV-1, BHK, NIH3T3 and HeLa cells were transfected with a neomycin marker gene (Chen and Okayama, 1987), and rat hepatocytes were transfected with a variety of marker genes (Rippe et al., 1990).

DEAE-Dextran: In another embodiment, a nucleic acid is delivered into a cell using DEAE-dextran followed by polyethylene glycol. In this manner, reporter plasmids were introduced into mouse myeloma and erythroleukemia cells (Gopal, 1985).

Sonication Loading: Additional embodiments of the present invention include the introduction of a nucleic acid by direct sonic loading. LTK-fibroblasts have been transfected with the thymidine kinase gene by sonication loading (Fechheimer et al., 1987).

Liposome-Mediated Transfection: In a further embodiment of the invention, a nucleic acid may be entrapped in a lipid complex such as, for example, a liposome. Liposomes are vesicular structures characterized by a phospholipid bilayer membrane and an inner aqueous medium. Multilamellar liposomes have multiple lipid layers separated by aqueous medium. They form spontaneously when phospholipids are suspended in an excess of aqueous solution. The lipid components undergo self-rearrangement before the formation of closed structures and entrap water and dissolved solutes between the lipid bilayers (Ghosh and Bachhawat, 1991). Also contemplated is an nucleic acid complexed with Lipofectamine (Gibco BRL) or Superfect (Qiagen).

Liposome-mediated nucleic acid delivery and expression of foreign DNA in vitro has been very successful (Nicolau and Sene, 1982; Fraley et al, 1979; Nicolau et al., 1987). The feasibility of liposome-mediated delivery and expression of foreign DNA in cultured chick embryo, HeLa and hepatoma cells has also been demonstrated (Wong et al., 1980).

In certain embodiments of the invention, a liposome may be complexed with a hemagglutinating virus (HVJ). This has been shown to facilitate fusion with the cell membrane and promote cell entry of liposome-encapsulated DNA (Kaneda et al., 1989). In other embodiments, a liposome may be complexed or employed in conjunction with nuclear non-histone chromosomal proteins (HMG-1) (Kato et al., 1991). In yet further embodiments, a liposome may be complexed or employed in conjunction with both HVJ and HMG-1. In other embodiments, a delivery vehicle may comprise a ligand and a liposome.

Receptor Mediated Transfection: Still further, a nucleic acid may be delivered to a target cell via receptor-mediated delivery vehicles. These take advantage of the selective uptake of macromolecules by receptor-mediated endocytosis that will be occurring in a target cell. In view of the cell type-specific distribution of various receptors, this delivery method adds another degree of specificity to the present invention.

Certain receptor-mediated gene targeting vehicles comprise a cell receptor-specific ligand and a nucleic acid-binding agent. Others comprise a cell receptor-specific ligand to which the nucleic acid to be delivered has been operatively attached. Several ligands have been used for receptor-mediated gene transfer (Wu and Wu, 1987; Wagner et al., 1990; Perales et al., 1994; Myers, EPO 0273085), which establishes the operability of the technique. Specific delivery in the context of another mammalian cell type has been described (Wu and Wu, 1993; incorporated herein by reference). In certain aspects of the present invention, a ligand will be chosen to correspond to a receptor specifically expressed on the target cell population.

In other embodiments, a nucleic acid delivery vehicle component of a cell-specific nucleic acid targeting vehicle may comprise a specific binding ligand in combination with a liposome. The nucleic acid(s) to be delivered are housed within the liposome and the specific binding ligand is functionally incorporated into the liposome membrane. The liposome will thus specifically bind to the receptor(s) of a target cell and deliver the contents to a cell. Such systems have been shown to be functional using systems in which, for example, epidermal growth factor (EGF) is used in the receptor-mediated delivery of a nucleic acid to cells that exhibit upregulation of the EGF receptor.

In still further embodiments, the nucleic acid delivery vehicle component of a targeted delivery vehicle may be a liposome itself, which will preferably comprise one or more lipids or glycoproteins that direct cell-specific binding. For example, lactosyl-ceramide, a galactose-terminal asialganglioside, have been incorporated into liposomes and observed an increase in the uptake of the insulin gene by hepatocytes (Nicolau et al, 1987). It is contemplated that the tissue-specific transforming constructs of the present invention can be specifically delivered into a target cell in a similar manner.

Microprojectile Bombardment: Microprojectile bombardment techniques can be used to introduce a nucleic acid into at least one, organelle, cell, tissue or organism (U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,550,318; 5,538,880; 5,610,042; and PCT Application WO 94/09699; each of which is incorporated herein by reference). This method depends on the ability to accelerate DNA-coated microprojectiles to a high velocity allowing them to pierce cell membranes and enter cells without killing them (Klein et al., 1987). There are a wide variety of microprojectile bombardment techniques known in the art, many of which are applicable to the invention.

Microprojectile bombardment may be used to transform various cell(s), tissue(s) or organism(s), such as for example any plant species Examples of species which have been transformed by microprojectile bombardment include monocot species such as maize (PCT Application WO 95/06128), barley (Ritala et al., 1994; Hensgens et al., 1993), wheat (U.S. Pat. No. 5,563,055, incorporated herein by reference), rice (Hensgens et al., 1993), oat (Torbet et al., 1995; Torbet et al., 1998), rye (Hensgens et al., 1993), sugarcane (Bower et al., 1992), and sorghum (Casas et al., 1993; Hagio et al., 1991 ); as well as a number of dicots including tobacco (Tomes et al., 1990; Buising and Benbow, 1994), soybean (U.S. Pat. No. 5,322,783, incorporated herein by reference), sunflower (Knittel et al. 1994), peanut (Singsit et al., 1997), cotton (McCabe and Martinell, 1993), tomato (VanEck et al. 1995), and legumes in general (U.S. Pat. No. 5,563,055, incorporated herein by reference).

In this microprojectile bombardment, one or more particles may be coated with at least one nucleic acid and delivered into cells by a propelling force. Several devices for accelerating small particles have been developed. One such device relies on a high voltage discharge to generate an electrical current, which in turn provides the motive force (Yang et al., 1990). The microprojectiles used have consisted of biologically inert substances such as tungsten or gold particles or beads. Exemplary particles include those comprised of tungsten, platinum, and preferably, gold. It is contemplated that in some instances DNA precipitation onto metal particles would not be necessary for DNA delivery to a recipient cell using microprojectile bombardment. However, it is contemplated that particles may contain DNA rather than be coated with DNA. DNA-coated particles may increase the level of DNA delivery via particle bombardment but are not, in and of themselves, necessary.

For the bombardment, cells in suspension are concentrated on filters or solid culture medium. Alternatively, immature embryos or other target cells may be arranged on solid culture medium. The cells to be bombarded are positioned at an appropriate distance below the macroprojectile stopping plate.

An illustrative embodiment of a method for delivering DNA into a cell (e.g., a plant cell) by acceleration is the Biolistics Particle Delivery System, which can be used to propel particles coated with DNA or cells through a screen, such as a stainless steel or Nytex screen, onto a filter surface covered with cells, such as for example, a monocot plant cells cultured in suspension. The screen disperses the particles so that they are not delivered to the recipient cells in large aggregates. It is believed that a screen intervening between the projectile apparatus and the cells to be bombarded reduces the size of projectiles aggregate and may contribute to a higher frequency of transformation by reducing the damage inflicted on the recipient cells by projectiles that are too large.

F. Expression Systems

Numerous expression systems exist that comprise at least a part or all of the compositions discussed above. Prokaryote- and/or eukaryote-based systems can be employed for use with the present invention to produce nucleic acid sequences, or their cognate polypeptides, proteins and peptides. Many such systems are commercially and widely available.

The insect cell/baculovirus system can produce a high level of protein expression of a heterologous nucleic acid segment, such as described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,871,986, 4,879,236, both herein incorporated by reference, and which can be bought, for example, under the name MAXBAC® 2.0 from INVITROGEN® and BACPACK™ BACULOVIRUS EXPRESSION SYSTEM FROM CLONTECH®.

Other examples of expression systems include STRATAGENE®'s COMPLETE CONTROL™ Inducible Mammalian Expression System, which involves a synthetic ecdysone-inducible receptor, or its pET Expression System, an E. coli expression system. Another example of an inducible expression system is available from INVITROGEN®, which carries the T-REX™ (tetracycline-regulated expression) System, an inducible mammalian expression system that uses the full-length CMV promoter. INVITROGEN® also provides a yeast expression system called the Pichia methanolica Expression System, which is designed for high-level production of recombinant proteins in the methylotrophic yeast Pichia methanolica. One of skill in the art would know how to express a vector, such as an expression construct, to produce a nucleic acid sequence or its cognate polypeptide, protein, or peptide.

Primary mammalian cell cultures may be prepared in various ways. In order for the cells to be kept viable while in vitro and in contact with the expression construct, it is necessary to ensure that the cells maintain contact with the correct ratio of oxygen and carbon dioxide and nutrients but are protected from microbial contamination. Cell culture techniques are well documented.

One embodiment of the foregoing involves the use of gene transfer to immortalize cells for the production of proteins. The gene for the protein of interest may be transferred as described above into appropriate host cells followed by culture of cells under the appropriate conditions. The gene for virtually any polypeptide may be employed in this manner. The generation of recombinant expression vectors, and the elements included therein, are discussed above. Alternatively, the protein to be produced may be an endogenous protein normally synthesized by the cell in question.

Examples of useful mammalian host cell lines are Vero and HeLa cells and cell lines of Chinese hamster ovary, W138, BHK, COS-7, 293, HepG2, NIH3T3, RIN and MDCK cells. In addition, a host cell strain may be chosen that modulates the expression of the inserted sequences, or modifies and process the gene product in the manner desired. Such modifications (e.g., glycosylation) and processing (e.g., cleavage) of protein products may be important for the function of the protein. Different host cells have characteristic and specific mechanisms for the post-translational processing and modification of proteins. Appropriate cell lines or host systems can be chosen to insure the correct modification and processing of the foreign protein expressed.

A number of selection systems may be used including, but not limited to, HSV thymidine kinase, hypoxanthine-guanine phosphoribosyltransferase and adenine phosphoribosyltransferase genes, in tk-, hgprt- or aprt-cells, respectively. Also, anti-metabolite resistance can be used as the basis of selection for dhfr, that confers resistance to; gpt, that confers resistance to mycophenolic acid; neo, that confers resistance to the aminoglycoside G418; and hygro, that confers resistance to hygromycin.

G. Host Cells

As used herein, the terms “cell,” “cell line,” and “cell culture” may be used interchangeably. All of these terms also include their progeny, which is any and all subsequent generations. It is understood that all progeny may not be identical due to deliberate or inadvertent mutations. In the context of expressing a heterologous nucleic acid sequence, “host cell” refers to a prokaryotic or eukaryotic cell, and it includes any transformable organisms that is capable of replicating a vector and/or expressing a heterologous gene encoded by a vector. A host cell can, and has been, used as a recipient for vectors. A host cell may be “transfected” or “transformed,” which refers to a process by which exogenous nucleic acid is transferred or introduced into the host cell. A transformed cell includes the primary subject cell and its progeny.

Host cells may be derived from prokaryotes or eukaryotes, depending upon whether the desired result is replication of the vector or expression of part or all of the vector-encoded nucleic acid sequences. Numerous cell lines and cultures are available for use as a host cell, and they can be obtained through the American Type Culture Collection (ATCC), which is an organization that serves as an archive for living cultures and genetic materials (www.atcc.org). An appropriate host can be determined by one of skill in the art based on the vector backbone and the desired result. A plasmid or cosmid, for example, can be introduced into a prokaryote host cell for replication of many vectors. Bacterial cells used as host cells for vector replication and/or expression include DH5α, JM109, and KC8, as well as a number of commercially available bacterial hosts such as SURE® Competent Cells and SOLOPACK™ Gold Cells (STRATAGENE®, La Jolla). Alternatively, bacterial cells such as E. coli LE392 could be used as host cells for phage viruses.

Examples of eukaryotic host cells for replication and/or expression of a vector include HeLa, NIH3T3, Jurkat, 293, Cos, CHO, Saos, and PC12. Many host cells from various cell types and organisms are available and would be known to one of skill in the art. Similarly, a viral vector may be used in conjunction with either a eukaryotic or prokaryotic host cell, particularly one that is permissive for replication or expression of the vector.

Some vectors may employ control sequences that allow it to be replicated and/or expressed in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. One of skill in the art would, further understand the conditions under which to incubate all of the above described host cells to maintain them and to permit replication of a vector. Also understood and known are techniques and conditions that would allow large-scale production of vectors, as well as production of the nucleic acids encoded by vectors and their cognate polypeptides, proteins, or peptides.

H. Cell Propagation

Animal cells can be propagated in vitro in two modes: as non-anchorage dependent cells growing in suspension throughout the bulk of the culture or as anchorage-dependent cells requiring attachment to a solid substrate for their propagation (i.e., a monolayer type of cell growth). Non-anchorage dependent or suspension cultures from continuous established cell lines are the most widely used means of large scale production of cells and cell products. However, suspension cultured cells have limitations, such as tumorigenic potential and lower protein production than adherent T-cells.

Large scale suspension culture of mammalian cells in stirred tanks is a common method for production of recombinant proteins. Two suspension culture reactor designs are in wide use the stirred reactor and the airlift reactor. The stirred design has successfully been used on an 8000 liter capacity for the production of interferon. Cells are grown in a stainless steel tank with a height-to-diameter ratio of 1:1 to 3:1. The culture is usually mixed with one or more agitators, based on bladed disks or marine propeller patterns. Agitator systems offering less shear forces than blades have been described. Agitation may be driven either directly or indirectly by magnetically coupled drives. Indirect drives reduce the risk of microbial contamination through seals on stirrer shafts.

The airlift reactor, also initially described for microbial fermentation and later adapted for mammalian culture, relies on a gas stream to both mix and oxygenate the culture. The gas stream enters a riser section of the reactor and drives circulation. Gas disengages at the culture surface, causing denser liquid free of gas bubbles to travel downward in the downcomer section of the reactor. The main advantage of this design is the simplicity and lack of need for mechanical mixing. Typically, the height-to-diameter ratio is 10:1. The airlift reactor scales up relatively easily, has good mass transfer of gases and generates relatively low shear forces.

The antibodies of the present invention are particularly useful for the isolation of antigens by immunoprecipitation. Immunoprecipitation involves the separation of the target antigen component from a complex mixture, and is used to discriminate or isolate minute amounts of protein. For the isolation of membrane proteins cells must be solubilized into detergent micelles. Nonionic salts are preferred, since other agents such as bile salts, precipitate at acid pH or in the presence of bivalent cations. Antibodies are and their uses are discussed further, below.

III. Generating Antibodies Reactive With CAR-1

In another aspect, the present invention contemplates an antibody that is immunoreactive with a CAR-1 molecule of the present invention, or any portion thereof An antibody can be a polyclonal or a monoclonal antibody. In a preferred embodiment, an antibody is a monoclonal antibody. Means for preparing and characterizing antibodies are well known in the art (see, e.g., Howell and Lane, 1988).

Briefly, a polyclonal antibody is prepared by immunizing an animal with an immunogen comprising a polypeptide of the present invention and collecting antisera from that immunized animal. A wide range of animal species can be used for the production of antisera. Typically an animal used for production of anti-antisera is a non-human animal including rabbits, mice, rats, hamsters, pigs or horses. Because of the relatively large blood volume of rabbits, a rabbit is a preferred choice for production of polyclonal antibodies.

Antibodies, both polyclonal and monoclonal, specific for isoforms of antigen may be prepared using conventional immunization techniques, as will be generally known to those of skill in the art. A composition containing antigenic epitopes of the compounds of the present invention can be used to immunize one or more experimental animals, such as a rabbit or mouse, which will then proceed to produce specific antibodies against the compounds of the present invention. Polyclonal antisera may be obtained, after allowing time for antibody generation, simply by bleeding the animal and preparing serum samples from the whole blood.

It is proposed that the monoclonal antibodies of the present invention will find useful application in standard immunochemical procedures, such as ELISA and Western blot methods and in immunohistochemical procedures such as tissue staining, as well as in other procedures which may utilize antibodies specific to CAR-1-related antigen epitopes. Additionally, it is proposed that monoclonal antibodies specific to the particular CAR-1 of different species may be utilized in other useful applications

In general, both polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies against CAR-1 may be used in a variety of embodiments. For example, they may be employed in antibody cloning protocols to obtain cDNAs or genes encoding other CAR-1. They may also be used in inhibition studies to analyze the effects of CAR-1 related peptides in cells or animals. Anti-CAR-1 antibodies will also be useful in immunolocalization studies to analyze the distribution of CAR-1 during various cellular events, for example, to determine the cellular or tissue-specific distribution of CAR-1 polypeptides under different points in the cell cycle. A particularly useful application of such antibodies is in purifying native or recombinant CAR-1, for example, using an antibody affinity column. The operation of all such immunological techniques will be known to those of skill in the art in light of the present disclosure.

Means for preparing and characterizing antibodies are well known in the art (see, e.g., Harlow and Lane, 1988; incorporated herein by reference). More specific examples of monoclonal antibody preparation are give in the examples below.

As is well known in the art, a given composition may vary in its immunogenicity. It is often necessary therefore to boost the host immune system, as may be achieved by coupling a peptide or polypeptide immunogen to a carrier. Exemplary and preferred carriers are keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) and bovine serum albumin (BSA). Other albumins such as ovalbumin, mouse serum albumin or rabbit serum albumin can also be used as carriers. Means for conjugating a polypeptide to a carrier protein are well known in the art and include glutaraldehyde, m-maleimidobencoyl-N-hydroxysuccinimide ester, carbodiimide and bis-biazotized benzidine.

As also is well known in the art, the immunogenicity of a particular immunogen composition can be enhanced by the use of non-specific stimulators of the immune response, known as adjuvants. Exemplary and preferred adjuvants include complete Freund's adjuvant (a non-specific stimulator of the immune response containing killed Mycobacterium tuberculosis), incomplete Freund's adjuvants and aluminum hydroxide adjuvant.

The amount of immunogen composition used in the production of polyclonal antibodies varies upon the nature of the immunogen as well as the animal used for immunization. A variety of routes can be used to administer the immunogen (subcutaneous, intramuscular, intradermal, intravenous and intraperitoneal). The production of polyclonal antibodies may be monitored by sampling blood of the immunized animal at various points following immunization. A second, booster, injection may also be given. The process of boosting and titering is repeated until a suitable titer is achieved. When a desired level of immunogenicity is obtained, the immunized animal can be bled and the serum isolated and stored, and/or the animal can be used to generate mAbs.

MAbs may be readily prepared through use of well-known techniques, such as those exemplified in U.S. Pat. No. 4,196,265, incorporated herein by reference. Typically, this technique involves immunizing a suitable animal with a selected immunogen composition, e.g., a purified or partially purified CAR-1 protein, polypeptide or peptide or cell expressing high levels of CAR-1. The immunizing composition is administered in a manner effective to stimulate antibody producing cells. Rodents such as mice and rats are preferred animals, however, the use of rabbit, sheep frog cells is also possible. The use of rats may provide certain advantages (Goding, 1986), but mice are preferred, with the BALB/c mouse being most preferred as this is most routinely used and generally gives a higher percentage of stable fusions.

Following immunization, somatic cells with the potential for producing antibodies, specifically B-lymphocytes (B-cells), are selected for use in the mAb generating protocol. These cells may be obtained from biopsied spleens, tonsils or lymph nodes, or from a peripheral blood sample. Spleen cells and peripheral blood cells are preferred, the former because they are a rich source of antibody-producing cells that are in the dividing plasmablast stage, and the latter because peripheral blood is easily accessible. Often, a panel of animals will have been immunized and the spleen of animal with the highest antibody titer will be removed and the spleen lymphocytes obtained by homogenizing the spleen with a syringe. Typically, a spleen from an immunized mouse contains approximately 5×107 to 2×108 lymphocytes.

The antibody-producing B lymphocytes from the immunized animal are then fused with cells of an immortal myeloma cell, generally one of the same species as the animal that was immunized. Myeloma cell lines suited for use in hybridoma-producing fusion procedures preferably are non-antibody-producing, have high fusion efficiency, and enzyme deficiencies that render then incapable of growing in certain selective media which support the growth of only the desired fused cells (hybridomas).

Any one of a number of myeloma cells may be used, as are known to those of skill in the art (Goding, 1986; Campbell, 1984). For example, where the immunized animal is a mouse, one may use P3-X63/Ag8, P3-X63-Ag8.653, NS1/1.Ag 4 1, Sp210-Ag14, FO, NSO/U, MPC-11, MPC11-X45-GTG 1.7 and S194/5XX0 Bul; for rats, one may use R210.RCY3, Y3-Ag 1.2.3, IR983F and 4B210; and U-266, GM1500-GRG2, LICR-LON-HMy2 and UC729-6 are all useful in connection with cell fusions.

Methods for generating hybrids of antibody-producing spleen or lymph node cells and myeloma cells usually comprise mixing somatic cells with myeloma cells in a 2:1 ratio, though the ratio may vary from about 20:1 to about 1:1, respectively, in the presence of an agent or agents (chemical or electrical) that promote the fusion of cell membranes. Fusion methods using Sendai virus have been described (Kohler and Milstein, 1975; 1976), and those using polyethylene glycol (PEG), such as 37% (v/v) PEG, by Gefter et al., (1977). The use of electrically induced fusion methods is also appropriate (Goding, 1986).

Fusion procedures usually produce viable hybrids at low frequencies, around 1×10−6 to 1×10−8. However, this does not pose a problem, as the viable, fused hybrids are differentiated from the parental, unfused cells (particularly the unfused myeloma cells that would normally continue to divide indefinitely) by culturing in a selective medium. The selective medium is generally one that contains an agent that blocks the de novo synthesis of nucleotides in the tissue culture media. Exemplary and preferred agents are aminopterin, methotrexate, and azaserine. Aminopterin and methotrexate block de novo synthesis of both purines and pyrimidines, whereas azaserine blocks only purine synthesis. Where aminopterin or methotrexate is used, the media is supplemented with hypoxanthine and thymidine as a source of nucleotides (HAT medium). Where azaserine is used, the media is supplemented with hypoxanthine.

The preferred selection medium is HAT. Only cells capable of operating nucleotide salvage pathways are able to survive in HAT medium. The myeloma cells are defective in key enzymes of the salvage pathway, e.g., hypoxanthine phosphoribosyl transferase (HPRT), and they cannot survive. The B-cells can operate this pathway, but they have a limited life span in culture and generally die within about two weeks. Therefore, the only cells that can survive in the selective media are those hybrids formed from myeloma and B-cells.

This culturing provides a population of hybridomas from which specific hybridomas are selected. Typically, selection of hybridomas is performed by culturing the cells by single-clone dilution in microtiter plates, followed by testing the individual clonal supernatants (after about two to three weeks) for the desired reactivity. The assay should be sensitive, simple and rapid, such as radioimmunoassays, enzyme immunoassays, cytotoxicity assays, plaque assays, dot immunobinding assays, and the like.

The selected hybridomas would then be serially diluted and cloned into individual antibody-producing cell lines, which clones can then be propagated indefinitely to provide mAbs. The cell lines may be exploited for mAb production in two basic ways. A sample of the hybridoma can be injected (often into the peritoneal cavity) into a histocompatible animal of the type that was used to provide the somatic and myeloma cells for the original fusion. The injected animal develops tumors secreting the specific monoclonal antibody produced by the fused cell hybrid. The body fluids of the animal, such as serum or ascites fluid, can then be tapped to provide mAbs in high concentration. The individual cell lines could also be cultured in vitro, where the mAbs are naturally secreted into the culture medium from which they can be readily obtained in high concentrations. mAbs produced by either means may be further purified, if desired, using filtration, centrifugation and various chromatographic methods such as HPLC or affinity chromatography.

IV. Diagnosing Cancers Involving CAR-1

CAR-1 and the corresponding gene may be employed as a diagnostic or prognostic indicator of cancer. More specifically, point mutations, deletions, insertions or regulatory pertubations relating to CAR-1 may cause cancer or promote cancer development, cause or promoter tumor progression at a primary site, and/or cause or promote metastasis. Other phenomena associated with malignancy that may be affected by CAR-1 expression include angiogenesis and tissue invasion.

A. Genetic Diagnosis

One embodiment of the instant invention comprises a method for detecting variation in the expression of CAR-1. This may comprises determining that level of CAR-1 or determining specific alterations in the expressed product. Obviously, this sort of assay has importance in the diagnosis of related cancers. Such cancer may involve cancers of the brain (glioblastomas, medulloblastoma, astrocytoma, oligodendroglioma, ependymomas), lung, liver, spleen, kidney, pancreas, small intestine, blood cells, lymph node, colon, breast, endometrium, stomach, prostate, testicle, ovary, skin, head and neck, esophagus, bone marrow, blood or other tissue. In particular, the present invention relates to the diagnosis of gliomas.

The biological sample can be any tissue or fluid. Various embodiments include cells of the skin, muscle, facia, brain, prostate, breast, endometrium, lung, head & neck, pancreas, small intestine, blood cells, liver, testes, ovaries, colon, skin, stomach, esophagus, spleen, lymph node, bone marrow or kidney. Other embodiments include fluid samples such as peripheral blood, lymph fluid, ascites, serous fluid, pleural effusion, sputum, cerebrospinal fluid, lacrimal fluid, stool or urine.

Nucleic acid used is isolated from cells contained in the biological sample, according to standard methodologies (Sambrook et al., 1989). The nucleic acid may be genomic DNA or fractionated or whole cell RNA. Where RNA is used, it may be desired to convert the RNA to a complementary DNA. In one embodiment, the RNA is whole cell RNA; in another, it is poly-A RNA. Normally, the nucleic acid is amplified.

Depending on the format, the specific nucleic acid of interest is identified in the sample directly using amplification or with a second, known nucleic acid following amplification. Next, the identified product is detected. In certain applications, the detection may be performed by visual means (e.g., ethidium bromide staining of a gel). Alternatively, the detection may involve indirect identification of the product via chemiluminescence, radioactive scintigraphy of radiolabel or fluorescent label or even via a system using electrical or thermal impulse signals (Affymax Technology; Bellus, 1994).

Following detection, one may compare the results seen in a given patient with a statistically significant reference group of normal patients and patients that have CAR-1-related pathologies. In this way, it is possible to correlate the amount or kind of CAR-1 detected with various clinical states.

Various types of defects have been identified by the present inventors. Thus, “alterations” should be read as including deletions, insertions, point mutations and duplications. Point mutations result in stop codons, frameshift mutations or amino acid substitutions. Somatic mutations are those occurring in non-germline tissues. Germ-line tissue can occur in any tissue and are inherited. Mutations in and outside the coding region also may affect the amount of CAR-1 produced, both by altering the transcription of the gene or in destabilizing or otherwise altering the processing of either the transcript (mRNA) or protein.

A cell takes a genetic step toward oncogenic transformation when one allele of a tumor suppressor gene is inactivated due to inheritance of a germline lesion or acquisition of a somatic mutation. The inactivation of the other allele of the gene usually involves a somatic micromutation or chromosomal allelic deletion that results in loss of heterozygosity (LOH). Alternatively, both copies of a tumor suppressor gene may be lost by homozygous deletion.

It is contemplated that other mutations in the CAR-1 gene may be identified in accordance with the present invention. A variety of different assays are contemplated in this regard, including but not limited to, fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH), direct DNA sequencing, PFGE analysis, Southern or Northern blotting, single-stranded conformation analysis (SSCA), RNAse protection assay, allele-specific oligonucleotide (ASO), dot blot analysis, denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis, RFLP and PCR™-SSCP.

(i) Primers and Probes

The term primer, as defined herein, is meant to encompass any nucleic acid that is capable of priming the synthesis of a nascent nucleic acid in a template-dependent process. Typically, primers are oligonucleotides from ten to twenty base pairs in length, but longer sequences can be employed. Primers may be provided in double-stranded or single-stranded form, although the single-stranded form is preferred. Probes are defined differently, although they may act as primers. Probes, while perhaps capable of priming, are designed to binding to the target DNA or RNA and need not be used in an amplification process.

In preferred embodiments, the probes or primers are labeled with radioactive species (32P, 14C, 35S, 3H, or other label), with a fluorophore (rhodamine, fluorescein) or a chemillumiscent (luciferase).

(ii) Template Dependent Amplification Methods

A number of template dependent processes are available to amplify the marker sequences present in a given template sample. One of the best known amplification methods is the polymerase chain reaction (referred to as PCR™) which is described in detail in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,683,195, 4,683,202 and 4,800,159, and in Innis et al., 1990, each of which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

Briefly, in PCR™, two primer sequences are prepared that are complementary to regions on opposite complementary strands of the marker sequence. An excess of deoxynucleoside triphosphates are added to a reaction mixture along with a DNA polymerase, e.g., Taq polymerase. If the marker sequence is present in a sample, the primers will bind to the marker and the polymerase will cause the primers to be extended along the marker sequence by adding on nucleotides. By raising and lowering the temperature of the reaction mixture, the extended primers will dissociate from the marker to form reaction products, excess primers will bind to the marker and to the reaction products and the process is repeated.

A reverse transcriptase PCR™ amplification procedure may be performed in order to quantify the amount of mRNA amplified. Methods of reverse transcribing RNA into cDNA are well known and described in Sambrook et al., 1989. Alternative methods for reverse transcription utilize thermostable, RNA-dependent DNA polymerases. These methods are described in WO 90/07641 filed Dec. 21, 1990. Polymerase chain reaction methodologies are well known in the art.

Another method for amplification is the ligase chain reaction (“LCR”), disclosed in EPO No. 320 308, incorporated herein by reference in its entirety. In LCR, two complementary probe pairs are prepared, and in the presence of the target sequence, each pair will bind to opposite complementary strands of the target such that they abut. In the presence of a ligase, the two probe pairs will link to form a single unit. By temperature cycling, as in PCR™, bound ligated units dissociate from the target and then serve as “target sequences” for ligation of excess probe pairs. U.S. Pat. No. 4,883,750 describes a method similar to LCR for binding probe pairs to a target sequence.

Qbeta Replicase, described in PCT Application No. PCT/US87/00880, may also be used as still another amplification method in the present invention. In this method, a replicative sequence of RNA that has a region complementary to that of a target is added to a sample in the presence of an RNA polymerase. The polymerase will copy the replicative sequence that can then be detected.

An isothermal amplification method, in which restriction endonucleases and ligases are used to achieve the amplification of target molecules that contain nucleotide 5′-[alpha-thio]-triphosphates in one strand of a restriction site may also be useful in the amplification of nucleic acids in the present invention, Walker et al., (1992).

Strand Displacement Amplification (SDA) is another method of carrying out isothermal amplification of nucleic acids which involves multiple rounds of strand displacement and synthesis, i.e., nick translation. A similar method, called Repair Chain Reaction (RCR), involves annealing several probes throughout a region targeted for amplification, followed by a repair reaction in which only two of the four bases are present. The other two bases can be added as biotinylated derivatives for easy detection. A similar approach is used in SDA. Target specific sequences can also be detected using a cyclic probe reaction (CPR). In CPR, a probe having 3′ and 5′ sequences of non-specific DNA and a middle sequence of specific RNA is hybridized to DNA that is present in a sample. Upon hybridization, the reaction is treated with RNase H, and the products of the probe identified as distinctive products that are released after digestion. The original template is annealed to another cycling probe and the reaction is repeated.

Still another amplification methods described in GB Application No. 2 202 328, and in PCT Application No. PCT/US89/01025, each of which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety, may be used in accordance with the present invention. In the former application, “modified” primers are used in a PCR™-like, template- and enzyme-dependent synthesis. The primers may be modified by labeling with a capture moiety (e.g., biotin) and/or a detector moiety (e.g., enzyme). In the latter application, an excess of labeled probes are added to a sample. In the presence of the target sequence, the probe binds and is cleaved catalytically. After cleavage, the target sequence is released intact to be bound by excess probe. Cleavage of the labeled probe signals the presence of the target sequence.

Other nucleic acid amplification procedures include transcription-based amplification systems (TAS), including nucleic acid sequence based amplification (NASBA) and 3SR (Kwoh et al, 1989; Gingeras et al, PCT Application WO 88/10315, incorporated herein by reference in their entirety). In NASBA, the nucleic acids can be prepared for amplification by standard phenol/chloroform extraction, heat denaturation of a clinical sample, treatment with lysis buffer and minispin columns for isolation of DNA and RNA or guanidinium chloride extraction of RNA. These amplification techniques involve annealing a primer which has target specific sequences. Following polymerization, DNA/RNA hybrids are digested with RNase H while double stranded DNA molecules are heat denatured again. In either case the single stranded DNA is made fully double-stranded by addition of second target specific primer, followed by polymerization. The double-stranded DNA molecules are then multiply transcribed by an RNA polymerase such as T7 or SP6. In an isothermal cyclic reaction, the RNA's are reverse transcribed into single-stranded DNA, which is then converted to double stranded DNA, and then transcribed once again with an RNA polymerase such as T7 or SP6. The resulting products, whether truncated or complete, indicate target specific sequences.

Davey et al., EPO No. 329 822 (incorporated herein by reference in its entirety) disclose a nucleic acid amplification process involving cyclically synthesizing single-stranded RNA (“ssRNA”), ssDNA, and double-stranded DNA (dsDNA), which may be used in accordance with the present invention. The ssRNA is a template for a first primer oligonucleotide, which is elongated by reverse transcriptase (RNA-dependent DNA polymerase). The RNA is then removed from the resulting DNA:RNA duplex by the action of ribonuclease H (RNase H, an RNase specific for RNA in duplex with either DNA or RNA). The resultant ssDNA is a template for a second primer, which also includes the sequences of an RNA polymerase promoter (exemplified by T7 RNA polymerase) 5′ to its homology to the template. This primer is then extended by DNA polymerase (exemplified by the large “Klenow” fragment of E. coli DNA polymerase I), resulting in a double-stranded DNA (“dsDNA”) molecule, having a sequence identical to that of the original RNA between the primers and having additionally, at one end, a promoter sequence. This promoter sequence can be used by the appropriate RNA polymerase to make many RNA copies of the DNA. These copies can then re-enter the cycle leading to very swift amplification. With proper choice of enzymes, this amplification can be done isothermally without addition of enzymes at each cycle. Because of the cyclical nature of this process, the starting sequence can be chosen to be in the form of either DNA or RNA.

Miller et al., PCT Application WO 89/06700 (incorporated herein by reference in its entirety) disclose a nucleic acid sequence amplification scheme based on the hybridization of a promoter/primer sequence to a target single-stranded DNA (“ssDNA”) followed by transcription of many RNA copies of the sequence. This scheme is not cyclic, i.e., new templates are not produced from the resultant RNA transcripts. Other amplification methods include “RACE” and “one-sided PCR™” (Frohman, M. A., In: PCR™ PROTOCOLS: A GUIDE TO METHODS AND APPLICATIONS, Academic Press, N.Y., 1990; Ohara et al., 1989; each herein incorporated by reference in their entirety).

Methods based on ligation of two (or more) oligonucleotides in the presence of nucleic acid having the sequence of the resulting “di-oligonucleotide”, thereby amplifying the di-oligonucleotide, may also be used in the amplification step of the present invention. Wu et al., (1989), incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

(iii) Southern/Northern Blotting

Blotting techniques are well known to those of skill in the art. Southern blotting involves the use of DNA as a target, whereas Northern blotting involves the use of RNA as a target. Each provide different types of information, although cDNA blotting is analogous, in many aspects, to blotting or RNA species.

Briefly, a probe is used to target a DNA or RNA species that has been immobilized on a suitable matrix, often a filter of nitrocellulose. The different species should be spatially separated to facilitate analysis. This often is accomplished by gel electrophoresis of nucleic acid species followed by “blotting” on to the filter.

Subsequently, the blotted target is incubated with a probe (usually labeled) under conditions that promote denaturation and rehybridization. Because the probe is designed to base pair with the target, the probe will binding a portion of the target sequence under renaturing conditions. Unbound probe is then removed, and detection is accomplished as described above.

(iv) Separation Methods

It normally is desirable, at one stage or another, to separate the amplification product from the template and the excess primer for the purpose of determining whether specific amplification has occurred. In one embodiment, amplification products are separated by agarose, agarose-acrylamide or polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis using standard methods. See Sambrook et al., 1989.

Alternatively, chromatographic techniques may be employed to effect separation. There are many kinds of chromatography which may be used in the present invention: adsorption, partition, ion-exchange and molecular sieve, and many specialized techniques for using them including column, paper, thin-layer and gas chromatography (Freifelder, 1982).

(v) Detection Methods

Products may be visualized in order to confirm amplification of the marker sequences. One typical visualization method involves staining of a gel with ethidium bromide and visualization under UV light. Alternatively, if the amplification products are integrally labeled with radio- or fluorometrically-labeled nucleotides, the amplification products can then be exposed to x-ray film or visualized under the appropriate stimulating spectra, following separation.

In one embodiment, visualization is achieved indirectly. Following separation of amplification products, a labeled nucleic acid probe is brought into contact with the amplified marker sequence. The probe preferably is conjugated to a chromophore but may be radiolabeled. In another embodiment, the probe is conjugated to a binding partner, such as an antibody or biotin, and the other member of the binding pair carries a detectable moiety.

In one embodiment, detection is by a labeled probe. The techniques involved are well known to those of skill in the art and can be found in many standard books on molecular protocols. See Sambrook et al., 1989. For example, chromophore or radiolabel probes or primers identify the target during or following amplification.

One example of the foregoing is described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,279,721, incorporated by reference herein, which discloses an apparatus and method for the automated electrophoresis and transfer of nucleic acids. The apparatus permits electrophoresis and blotting without external manipulation of the gel and is ideally suited to carrying out methods according to the present invention.

In addition, the amplification products described above may be subjected to sequence analysis to identify specific kinds of variations using standard sequence analysis techniques. Within certain methods, exhaustive analysis of genes is carried out by sequence analysis using primer sets designed for optimal sequencing (Pignon et al, 1994). The present invention provides methods by which any or all of these types of analyses may be used. Using the sequences disclosed herein, oligonucleotide primers may be designed to permit the amplification of sequences throughout the CAR-1 gene that may then be analyzed by direct sequencing.

(vi) Kit Components

All the essential materials and reagents required for detecting and sequencing CAR-1 and variants thereof may be assembled together in a kit. This generally will comprise preselected primers and probes. Also included may be enzymes suitable for amplifying nucleic acids including various polymerases (RT, Taq, Sequenase™ etc.), deoxynucleotides and buffers to provide the necessary reaction mixture for amplification. Such kits also generally will comprise, in suitable means, distinct containers for each individual reagent and enzyme as well as for each primer or probe.

(vii) Design and Theoretical Considerations for Relative Quantitative RT-PCR™

Reverse transcription (RT) of RNA to cDNA followed by relative quantitative PCR™ (RT-PCR™) can be used to determine the relative concentrations of specific mRNA species isolated from patients. By determining that the concentration of a specific mRNA species varies, it is shown that the gene encoding the specific mRNA species is differentially expressed.

In PCR™, the number of molecules of the amplified target DNA increase by a factor approaching two with every cycle of the reaction until some reagent becomes limiting. Thereafter, the rate of amplification becomes increasingly diminished until there is no increase in the amplified target between cycles. If a graph is plotted in which the cycle number is on the X axis and the log of the concentration of the amplified target DNA is on the Y axis, a curved line of characteristic shape is formed by connecting the plotted points. Beginning with the first cycle, the slope of the line is positive and constant. This is said to be the linear portion of the curve. After a reagent becomes limiting, the slope of the line begins to decrease and eventually becomes zero. At this point the concentration of the amplified target DNA becomes asymptotic to some fixed value. This is said to be the plateau portion of the curve.

The concentration of the target DNA in the linear portion of the PCR™ amplification is directly proportional to the starting concentration of the target before the reaction began. By determining the concentration of the amplified products of the target DNA in PCR™ reactions that have completed the same number of cycles and are in their linear ranges, it is possible to determine the relative concentrations of the specific target sequence in the original DNA mixture. If the DNA mixtures are cDNAs synthesized from RNAs isolated from different tissues or cells, the relative abundances of the specific mRNA from which the target sequence was derived can be determined for the respective tissues or cells. This direct proportionality between the concentration of the PCR™ products and the relative mRNA abundances is only true in the linear range of the PCR™ reaction.

The final concentration of the target DNA in the plateau portion of the curve is determined by the availability of reagents in the reaction mix and is independent of the original concentration of target DNA. Therefore, the first condition that must be met before the relative abundances of a mRNA species can be determined by RT-PCR™ for a collection of RNA populations is that the concentrations of the amplified PCR™ products must be sampled when the PCR™ reactions are in the linear portion of their curves.

The second condition that must be met for an RT-PCR™ experiment to successfully determine the relative abundances of a particular mRNA species is that relative concentrations of the amplifiable cDNAs must be normalized to some independent standard. The goal of an RT-PCR™ experiment is to determine the abundance of a particular mRNA species relative to the average abundance of all mRNA species in the sample. In the experiments described below, mRNAs for β-actin, asparagine synthetase and lipocortin II were used as external and internal standards to which the relative abundance of other mRNAs are compared.

Most protocols for competitive PCR™ utilize internal PCR™ standards that are approximately as abundant as the target. These strategies are effective if the products of the PCR™ amplifications are sampled during their linear phases. If the products are sampled when the reactions are approaching the plateau phase, then the less abundant product becomes relatively over represented. Comparisons of relative abundances made for many different RNA samples, such as is the case when examining RNA samples for differential expression, become distorted in such a way as to make differences in relative abundances of RNAs appear less than they actually are. This is not a significant problem if the internal standard is much more abundant than the target. If the internal standard is more abundant than the target, then direct linear comparisons can be made between RNA samples.

The above discussion describes theoretical considerations for an RT-PCR™ assay for clinically derived materials. The problems inherent in clinical samples are that they are of variable quantity (making normalization problematic), and that they are of variable quality (necessitating the co-amplification of a reliable internal control, preferably of larger size than the target). Both of these problems are overcome if the RT-PCR™ is performed as a relative quantitative RT-PCR™ with an internal standard in which the internal standard is an amplifiable cDNA fragment that is larger than the target cDNA fragment and in which the abundance of the mRNA encoding the internal standard is roughly 5–100 fold higher than the mRNA encoding the target. This assay measures relative abundance, not absolute abundance of the respective mRNA species.

Other studies may be performed using a more conventional relative quantitative RT-PCR™ assay with an external standard protocol. These assays sample the PCR™ products in the linear portion of their amplification curves. The number of PCR™ cycles that are optimal for sampling must be empirically determined for each target cDNA fragment. In addition, the reverse transcriptase products of each RNA population isolated from the various tissue samples must be carefully normalized for equal concentrations of amplifiable cDNAs. This consideration is very important since the assay measures absolute mRNA abundance. Absolute mRNA abundance can be used as a measure of differential gene expression only in normalized samples. While empirical determination of the linear range of the amplification curve and normalization of cDNA preparations are tedious and time consuming processes, the resulting RT-PCR™ assays can be superior to those derived from the relative quantitative RT-PCR™ assay with an internal standard.

One reason for this advantage is that without the internal standard/competitor, all of the reagents can be converted into a single PCR™ product in the linear range of the amplification curve, thus increasing the sensitivity of the assay. Another reason is that with only one PCR™ product, display of the product on an electrophoretic gel or another display method becomes less complex, has less background and is easier to interpret.

(viii) Chip Technologies

Specifically contemplated by the present inventors are chip-based DNA technologies such as those described by Hacia et al. (1996) and Shoemaker et al. (1996). Briefly, these techniques involve quantitative methods for analyzing large numbers of genes rapidly and accurately. By tagging genes with oligonucleotides or using fixed probe arrays, one can employ chip technology to segregate target molecules as high density arrays and screen these molecules on the basis of hybridization. See also Pease et al. (1994); Fodor et al. (1991).

B. Immunodiagnosis

Antibodies of the present invention can be used in characterizing the CAR-1 content of healthy and diseased tissues, through techniques such as ELISAs and Western blotting. This may provide a screen for the presence or absence of malignancy or as a predictor of future cancer.

The use of antibodies of the present invention, in an ELISA assay is contemplated. For example, anti-CAR-1 antibodies are immobilized onto a selected surface, preferably a surface exhibiting a protein affinity such as the wells of a polystyrene microtiter plate. After washing to remove incompletely adsorbed material, it is desirable to bind or coat the assay plate wells with a non-specific protein that is known to be antigenically neutral with regard to the test antisera such as bovine serum albumin (BSA), casein or solutions of powdered milk. This allows for blocking of non-specific adsorption sites on the immobilizing surface and thus reduces the background caused by non-specific binding of antigen onto the surface.

After binding of antibody to the well, coating with a non-reactive material to reduce background, and washing to remove unbound material, the immobilizing surface is contacted with the sample to be tested in a manner conducive to immune complex (antigen/antibody) formation.

Following formation of specific immunocomplexes between the test sample and the bound antibody, and subsequent washing, the occurrence and even amount of immunocomplex formation may be determined by subjecting same to a second antibody having specificity for CAR-1 that differs the first antibody. Appropriate conditions preferably include diluting the sample with diluents such as BSA, bovine gamma globulin (BGG) and phosphate buffered saline (PBS)/Tween®. These added agents also tend to assist in the reduction of nonspecific background. The layered antisera is then allowed to incubate for from about 2 to about 4 hr, at temperatures preferably on the order of about 25° to about 27° C. Following incubation, the antisera-contacted surface is washed so as to remove non-immunocomplexed material. A preferred washing procedure includes washing with a solution such as PBS/Tween®, or borate buffer.

To provide a detecting means, the second antibody will preferably have an associated enzyme that will generate a color development upon incubating with an appropriate chromogenic substrate. Thus, for example, one will desire to contact and incubate the second antibody-bound surface with a urease or peroxidase-conjugated anti-human IgG for a period of time and under conditions which favor the development of immunocomplex formation (e.g., incubation for 2 hr at room temperature in a PBS-containing solution such as PBS/Tween®).

After incubation with the second enzyme-tagged antibody, and subsequent to washing to remove unbound material, the amount of label is quantified by incubation with a chromogenic substrate such as urea and bromocresol purple or 2,2′-azino-di-(3-ethyl-benzthiazoline)-6-sulfonic acid (ABTS) and H2O2, in the case of peroxidase as the enzyme label. Quantitation is then achieved by measuring the degree of color generation, e.g., using a visible spectrum spectrophotometer.

The preceding format may be altered by first binding the sample to the assay plate. Then, primary antibody is incubated with the assay plate, followed by detecting of bound primary antibody using a labeled second antibody with specificity for the primary antibody.

The antibody compositions of the present invention will find great use in immunoblot or Western blot analysis. The antibodies may be used as high-affinity primary reagents for the identification of proteins immobilized onto a solid support matrix, such as nitrocellulose, nylon or combinations thereof In conjunction with immunoprecipitation, followed by gel electrophoresis, these may be used as a single step reagent for use in detecting antigens against which secondary reagents used in the detection of the antigen cause an adverse background. Immunologically-based detection methods for use in conjunction with Western blotting include enzymatically-, radiolabel-, or fluorescently-tagged secondary antibodies against the toxin moiety are considered to be of particular use in this regard.

V. Methods of Therapy

The present invention also involves, in another embodiment, the treatment of cancer. The types of cancer that may be treated, according to the present invention, is limited only by the involvement of CAR-1. By involvement, it is not even a requirement that CAR-1 be mutated or abnormal—the overexpression of this tumor suppressor may actually overcome other lesions within the cell. Thus, it is contemplated that a wide variety of tumors may be treated using CAR-1 therapy, including cancers of the brain, lung, liver, spleen, kidney, lymph node, pancreas, small intestine, blood cells, colon, stomach, breast, endometrium, prostate, testicle, ovary, skin, head and neck, esophagus, bone marrow, blood or other tissue. In particular, carcinomas and neuroblastomas are contemplated for treatment.

In many contexts, it is not necessary that the tumor cell be killed or induced to undergo normal cell death or “apoptosis.” Rather, to accomplish a meaningful treatment, all that is required is that the tumor growth be slowed to some degree. It may be that the tumor growth is completely blocked, however, or that some tumor regression is achieved. Clinical terminology such as “remission” and “reduction of tumor” burden also are contemplated given their normal usage.

A. Genetic Based Therapies

One of the therapeutic embodiments contemplated by the present inventors is the intervention, at the molecular level, in the events involved in the tumorigenesis of some cancers. Specifically, the present inventors intend to provide, to a cancer cell, an expression construct capable of providing CAR-1 to that cell. Because the sequence homology between the human, mouse and dog genes, any of these nucleic acids could be used in human therapy, as could any of the gene sequence variants discussed above which would encode the same, or a biologically equivalent polypeptide. The lengthy discussion of expression vectors and the genetic elements employed therein is incorporated into this section by reference. Particularly preferred expression vectors are viral vectors such as adenovirus, adeno-associated virus, herpesvirus, vaccinia virus and retrovirus. Also preferred is liposomally-encapsulated expression vector.

Those of skill in the art are well aware of how to apply gene delivery to in vivo and ex vivo situations. For viral vectors, one generally will prepare a viral vector stock. Depending on the kind of virus and the titer attainable, one will deliver 1×104, 1×105, 1×106, 1×107, 1×108, 1×109, 1×1010, 1×1011 or 1×1012 infectious particles to the patient. Similar figures may be extrapolated for liposomal or other non-viral formulations by comparing relative uptake efficiencies. Formulation as a pharmaceutically acceptable composition is discussed below.

Various routes are contemplated for various tumor types. The section below on routes contains an extensive list of possible routes. For practically any tumor, systemic delivery is contemplated. This will prove especially important for attacking microscopic or metastatic cancer. Where discrete tumor mass may be identified, a variety of direct, local and regional approaches may be taken. For example, the tumor may be directly injected with the expression vector. A tumor bed may be treated prior to, during or after resection. Following resection, one generally will deliver the vector by a catheter left in place following surgery. One may utilize the tumor vasculature to introduce the vector into the tumor by injecting a supporting vein or artery. A more distal blood supply route also may be utilized.

In a different embodiment, ex vivo gene therapy is contemplated. This approach is particularly suited, although not limited, to treatment of bone marrow associated cancers. In an ex vivo embodiment, cells from the patient are removed and maintained outside the body for at least some period of time. During this period, a therapy is delivered, after which the cells are reintroduced into the patient; hopefully, any tumor cells in the sample have been killed.

Autologous bone marrow transplant (ABMT) is an example of ex vivo gene therapy. Basically, the notion behind ABMT is that the patient will serve as his or her own bone marrow donor. Thus, a normally lethal dose of irradiation or chemotherapeutic may be delivered to the patient to kill tumor cells, and the bone marrow repopulated with the patients own cells that have been maintained (and perhaps expanded) ex vivo. Because, bone marrow often is contaminated with tumor cells, it is desirable to purge the bone marrow of these cells. Use of gene therapy to accomplish this goal is yet another way CAR-1 may be utilized according to the present invention.

B. Immunotherapies

Immunotherapeutics, generally, rely on the use of immune effector cells and molecules to target and destroy cancer cells. The immune effector may be, for example, an antibody specific for some marker on the surface of a tumor cell. The antibody alone may serve as an effector of therapy or it may recruit other cells to actually effect cell killing. The antibody also may be conjugated to a drug or toxin (chemotherapeutic, radionuclide, ricin A chain, cholera toxin, pertussis toxin, etc.) and serve merely as a targeting agent. Alternatively, the effector may be a lymphocyte carrying a surface molecule that interacts, either directly or indirectly, with a tumor cell target. Various effector cells include cytotoxic T cells and NK cells.

According to the present invention, it is unlikely that CAR-1 could serve as a target for an immune effector given that (i) it is unlikely to be expressed on the surface of the cell and (ii) that the presence, not absence, of CAR-1 is associated with the normal state. However, it is possible that particular mutant forms of CAR-1 may be targeted by immunotherapy, either using antibodies, antibody conjugates or immune effector cells.

A more likely scenario is that immunotherapy could be used as part of a combined therapy, in conjunction with CAR-1-targeted gene therapy. The general approach for combined therapy is discussed below. Generally, the tumor cell must bear some marker that is amenable to targeting, i.e., is not present on the majority of other cells. Many tumor marker exist and any of these may be suitable for targeting in the context of the present invention. Common tumor markers include carcinoembryonic antigen, prostate specific antigen, urinary tumor associated antigen, fetal antigen, tyrosinase (p97), gp68, TAG-72, HMFG, Sialyl Lewis Antigen, MucA, MucB, PLAP, estrogen receptor, laminin receptor, erb B and p155.

C. Protein Therapy

Another therapy approach is the provision, to a subject, of CAR-1 polypeptide, active fragments, synthetic peptides, mimetics or other analogs thereof The protein may be produced by recombinant expression means or, if small enough, generated by an automated peptide synthesizer. Formulations would be selected based on the route of administration and purpose including, but not limited to, liposomal formulations and classic pharmaceutical preparations.

D. Combined Therapy with Immunotherapy, Traditional Chemo- or Radiotherapy

Tumor cell resistance to DNA damaging agents represents a major problem in clinical oncology. One goal of current cancer research is to find ways to improve the efficacy of chemo- and radiotherapy. One way is by combining such traditional therapies with gene therapy. For example, the herpes simplex-thymidine kinase (HS-tk) gene, when delivered to brain tumors by a retroviral vector system, successfully induced susceptibility to the antiviral agent ganciclovir (Culver et al, 1992). In the context of the present invention, it is contemplated that CAR-1 replacement therapy could be used similarly in conjunction with chemo- or radiotherapeutic intervention. It also may prove effective to combine CAR-1 gene therapy with immunotherapy, as described above.

To kill cells, inhibit cell growth, inhibit metastasis, inhibit angiogenesis or otherwise reverse or reduce the malignant phenotype of tumor cells, using the methods and compositions of the present invention, one would generally contact a “target” cell with a CAR-1 expression construct and at least one other agent. These compositions would be provided in a combined amount effective to kill or inhibit proliferation of the cell. This process may involve contacting the cells with the expression construct and the agent(s) or factor(s) at the same time. This may be achieved by contacting the cell with a single composition or pharmacological formulation that includes both agents, or by contacting the cell with two distinct compositions or formulations, at the same time, wherein one composition includes the expression construct and the other includes the agent.

Alternatively, the gene therapy treatment may precede or follow the other agent treatment by intervals ranging from minutes to weeks. In embodiments where the other agent and expression construct are applied separately to the cell, one would generally ensure that a significant period of time did not expire between the time of each delivery, such that the agent and expression construct would still be able to exert an advantageously combined effect on the cell. In such instances, it is contemplated that one would contact the cell with both modalities within about 12–24 hours of each other and, more preferably, within about 6–12 hours of each other, with a delay time of only about 12 hours being most preferred. In some situations, it may be desirable to extend the time period for treatment significantly, however, where several days (2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7) to several weeks (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 or 8) lapse between the respective administrations.

It also is conceivable that more than one administration of either CAR-1 or the other agent will be desired. Various combinations may be employed, where CAR-1 is “A” and the other agent is “B”, as exemplified below:


Other combinations are contemplated. Again, to achieve cell killing, both agents are delivered to a cell in a combined amount effective to kill the cell.

Agents or factors suitable for use in a combined therapy are any chemical compound or treatment method that induces DNA damage when applied to a cell. Such agents and factors include radiation and waves that induce DNA damage such as, γ-irradiation, X-rays, UV-irradiation, microwaves, electronic emissions, and the like. A variety of chemical compounds, also described as “chemotherapeutic agents,” function to induce DNA damage, all of which are intended to be of use in the combined treatment methods disclosed herein. Chemotherapeutic agents contemplated to be of use, include, e.g., adriamycin, 5-fluorouracil (5FU), etoposide (VP-16), camptothecin, actinomycin-D, mitomycin C, cisplatin (CDDP) and even hydrogen peroxide. The invention also encompasses the use of a combination of one or more DNA damaging agents, whether radiation-based or actual compounds, such as the use of X-rays with cisplatin or the use of cisplatin with etoposide. In certain embodiments, the use of cisplatin in combination with a CAR-1 expression construct is particularly preferred as this compound.

In treating cancer according to the invention, one would contact the tumor cells with an agent in addition to the expression construct. This may be achieved by irradiating the localized tumor site with radiation such as X-rays, UV-light, γ-rays or even microwaves. Alternatively, the tumor cells may be contacted with the agent by administering to the subject a therapeutically effective amount of a pharmaceutical composition comprising a compound such as, adriamycin, 5-fluorouracil, etoposide, camptothecin, actinomycin-D, mitomycin C, or more preferably, cisplatin. The agent may be prepared and used as a combined therapeutic composition, or kit, by combining it with a CAR-1 expression construct, as described above.

Agents that directly cross-link nucleic acids, specifically DNA, are envisaged to facilitate DNA damage leading to a synergistic, antineoplastic combination with CAR-1. Agents such as cisplatin, and other DNA alkylating agents may be used. Cisplatin has been widely used to treat cancer, with efficacious doses used in clinical applications of 20 mg/m2 for 5 days every three weeks for a total of three courses. Cisplatin is not absorbed orally and must therefore be delivered via injection intravenously, subcutaneously, intratumorally or intraperitoneally.

Agents that damage DNA also include compounds that interfere with DNA replication, mitosis and chromosomal segregation. Such chemotherapeutic compounds include adriamycin, also known as doxorubicin, etoposide, verapamil, podophyllotoxin, and the like. Widely used in a clinical setting for the treatment of neoplasms, these compounds are administered through bolus injections intravenously at doses ranging from 25–75 mg/m2 at 21 day intervals for adriamycin, to 35–50 mg/m2 for etoposide intravenously or double the intravenous dose orally.

Agents that disrupt the synthesis and fidelity of nucleic acid precursors and subunits also lead to DNA damage. As such a number of nucleic acid precursors have been developed. Particularly useful are agents that have undergone extensive testing and are readily available. As such, agents such as 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), are preferentially used by neoplastic tissue, making this agent particularly useful for targeting to neoplastic cells. Although quite toxic, 5-FU, is applicable in a wide range of carriers, including topical, however intravenous administration with doses ranging from 3 to 15 mg/kg/day being commonly used.

Other factors that cause DNA damage and have been used extensively include what are commonly known as γ-rays, X-rays, and/or the directed delivery of radioisotopes to tumor cells. Other forms of DNA damaging factors are also contemplated such as microwaves and UV-irradiation. It is most likely that all of these factors effect a broad range of damage DNA, on the precursors of DNA, the replication and repair of DNA, and the assembly and maintenance of chromosomes. Dosage ranges for X-rays range from daily doses of 50 to 200 roentgens for prolonged periods of time (3 to 4 weeks), to single doses of 2000 to 6000 roentgens. Dosage ranges for radioisotopes vary widely, and depend on the half-life of the isotope, the strength and type of radiation emitted, and the uptake by the neoplastic cells.

The skilled artisan is directed to “Remington's Pharmaceutical Sciences” 15th Edition, chapter 33, in particular pages 624–652. Some variation in dosage will necessarily occur depending on the condition of the subject being treated. The person responsible for administration will, in any event, determine the appropriate dose for the individual subject. Moreover, for human administration, preparations should meet sterility, pyrogenicity, general safety and purity standards as required by FDA Office of Biologics standards.

The inventors propose that the regional delivery of CAR-1 expression constructs to patients with CAR-1-linked cancers will be a very efficient method for delivering a therapeutically effective gene to counteract the clinical disease. Similarly, the chemo- or radiotherapy may be directed to a particular, affected region of the subjects body. Alternatively, systemic delivery of expression construct and/or the agent may be appropriate in certain circumstances, for example, where extensive metastasis has occurred.

In addition to combining CAR-1-targeted therapies with chemo- and radiotherapies, it also is contemplated that combination with other gene therapies will be advantageous. For example, targeting of CAR-1 and p53 or p16 mutations at the same time may produce an improved anti-cancer treatment. Any other tumor-related gene conceivably can be targeted in this manner, for example, p21, Rb, APC, DCC, NF-1, NF-2, BCRA2, p16, FHIT, WT-1, MEN-I, MEN-II, BRCA1, VHL, FCC, MCC, ras, myc, neu, raf erb, src, fins, jun, trk, ret, gsp, hst, bcl and abl.

It also should be pointed out that any of the foregoing therapies may prove useful by themselves in treating a CAR-1. In this regard, reference to chemotherapeutics and non-CAR-1 gene therapy in combination should also be read as a contemplation that these approaches may be employed separately.

E. Formulations and Routes for Administration to Patients

Where clinical applications are contemplated, it will be necessary to prepare pharmaceutical compositions—expression vectors, virus stocks, proteins, antibodies and drugs—in a form appropriate for the intended application. Generally, this will entail preparing compositions that are essentially free of pyrogens, as well as other impurities that could be harmful to humans or animals.

One will generally desire to employ appropriate salts and buffers to render delivery vectors stable and allow for uptake by target cells. Buffers also will be employed when recombinant cells are introduced into a patient. Aqueous compositions of the present invention comprise an effective amount of the vector to cells, dissolved or dispersed in a pharmaceutically acceptable carrier or aqueous medium. Such compositions also are referred to as inocula. The phrase “pharmaceutically or pharmacologically acceptable” refer to molecular entities and compositions that do not produce adverse, allergic, or other untoward reactions when administered to an animal or a human. As used herein, “pharmaceutically acceptable carrier” includes any and all solvents, dispersion media, coatings, antibacterial and antifungal agents, isotonic and absorption delaying agents and the like. The use of such media and agents for pharmaceutically active substances is well know in the art. Except insofar as any conventional media or agent is incompatible with the vectors or cells of the present invention, its use in therapeutic compositions is contemplated. Supplementary active ingredients also can be incorporated into the compositions.

The active compositions of the present invention may include classic pharmaceutical preparations. Administration of these compositions according to the present invention will be via any common route so long as the target tissue is available via that route. This includes oral, nasal, buccal, rectal, vaginal or topical. Alternatively, administration may be by orthotopic, intradermal, subcutaneous, intramuscular, intraperitoneal or intravenous injection. Such compositions would normally be administered as pharmaceutically acceptable compositions, described supra. Of particular interest is direct intratumoral administration, perfusion of a tumor, or admininstration local or regional to a tumor, for example, in the local or regional vasculature or lymphatic system.

The active compounds may also be administered parenterally or intraperitoneally. Solutions of the active compounds as free base or pharmacologically acceptable salts can be prepared in water suitably mixed with a surfactant, such as hydroxypropylcellulose. Dispersions can also be prepared in glycerol, liquid polyethylene glycols, and mixtures thereof and in oils. Under ordinary conditions of storage and use, these preparations contain a preservative to prevent the growth of microorganisms.

The pharmaceutical forms suitable for injectable use include sterile aqueous solutions or dispersions and sterile powders for the extemporaneous preparation of sterile injectable solutions or dispersions. In all cases the form must be sterile and must be fluid to the extent that easy syringability exists. It must be stable under the conditions of manufacture and storage and must be preserved against the contaminating action of microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi. The carrier can be a solvent or dispersion medium containing, for example, water, ethanol, polyol (for example, glycerol, propylene glycol, and liquid polyethylene glycol, and the like), suitable mixtures thereof, and vegetable oils. The proper fluidity can be maintained, for example, by the use of a coating, such as lecithin, by the maintenance of the required particle size in the case of dispersion and by the use of surfactants. The prevention of the action of microorganisms can be brought about by various antibacterial an antifungal agents, for example, parabens, chlorobutanol, phenol, sorbic acid, thimerosal, and the like. In many cases, it will be preferable to include isotonic agents, for example, sugars or sodium chloride. Prolonged absorption of the injectable compositions can be brought about by the use in the compositions of agents delaying absorption, for example, aluminum monostearate and gelatin.

Sterile injectable solutions are prepared by incorporating the active compounds in the required amount in the appropriate solvent with various of the other ingredients enumerated above, as required, followed by filtered sterilization. Generally, dispersions are prepared by incorporating the various sterilized active ingredients into a sterile vehicle which contains the basic dispersion medium and the required other ingredients from those enumerated above. In the case of sterile powders for the preparation of sterile injectable solutions, the preferred methods of preparation are vacuum-drying and freeze-drying techniques which yield a powder of the active ingredient plus any additional desired ingredient from a previously sterile-filtered solution thereof

As used herein, “pharmaceutically acceptable carrier” includes any and all solvents, dispersion media, coatings, antibacterial and antifungal agents, isotonic and absorption delaying agents and the like. The use of such media and agents for pharmaceutical active substances is well known in the art. Except insofar as any conventional media or agent is incompatible with the active ingredient, its use in the therapeutic compositions is contemplated. Supplementary active ingredients can also be incorporated into the compositions.

For oral administration the polypeptides of the present invention may be incorporated with excipients and used in the form of non-ingestible mouthwashes and dentifrices. A mouthwash may be prepared incorporating the active ingredient in the required amount in an appropriate solvent, such as a sodium borate solution (Dobell's Solution). Alternatively, the active ingredient may be incorporated into an antiseptic wash containing sodium borate, glycerin and potassium bicarbonate. The active ingredient may also be dispersed in dentifrices, including: gels, pastes, powders and slurries. The active ingredient may be added in a therapeutically effective amount to a paste dentifrice that may include water, binders, abrasives, flavoring agents, foaming agents, and humectants.

The compositions of the present invention may be formulated in a neutral or salt form. Pharmaceutically-acceptable salts include the acid addition salts (formed with the free amino groups of the protein) and which are formed with inorganic acids such as, for example, hydrochloric or phosphoric acids, or such organic acids as acetic, oxalic, tartaric, mandelic, and the like. Salts formed with the free carboxyl groups can also be derived from inorganic bases such as, for example, sodium, potassium, ammonium, calcium, or ferric hydroxides, and such organic bases as isopropylamine, trimethylamine, histidine, procaine and the like.

Upon formulation, solutions will be administered in a manner compatible with the dosage formulation and in such amount as is therapeutically effective. The formulations are easily administered in a variety of dosage forms such as injectable solutions, drug release capsules and the like. For parenteral administration in an aqueous solution, for example, the solution should be suitably buffered if necessary and the liquid diluent first rendered isotonic with sufficient saline or glucose. These particular aqueous solutions are especially suitable for intravenous, intramuscular, subcutaneous and intraperitoneal administration. In this connection, sterile aqueous media which can be employed will be known to those of skill in the art in light of the present disclosure. For example, one dosage could be dissolved in 1 ml of isotonic NaCl solution and either added to 1000 ml of hypodermoclysis fluid or injected at the proposed site of infusion, (see for example, “Remington's Pharmaceutical Sciences” 15th Edition, pages 1035–1038 and 1570–1580). Some variation in dosage will necessarily occur depending on the condition of the subject being treated. The person responsible for administration will, in any event, determine the appropriate dose for the individual subject. Moreover, for human administration, preparations should meet sterility, pyrogenicity, general safety and purity standards as required by FDA Office of Biologics standards.

VI. Screening for Modulators of CAR-1 Function

The present invention also contemplates the use of CAR-1 and active fragments, and nucleic acids coding therefor, in the screening of compounds for activity in either stimulating CAR-1 activity, overcoming the lack of CAR-1 or blocking the effect of a mutant CAR-1 molecule. These assays may make use of a variety of different formats and may depend on the kind of “activity” for which the screen is being conducted. Contemplated functional “read-outs” include binding to a compound, inhibition of binding to a substrate, ligand, receptor or other binding partner by a compound, inhibition or stimulation of cell-to-cell signaling, growth, metastasis, cell division, cell migration, soft agar colony formation, contact inhibition, invasiveness, angiogenesis, apoptosis, tumor progression or other malignant phenotype.

A. In Vitro Assays

In one embodiment, the invention is to be applied for the screening of compounds that bind to the CAR-1 molecule or fragment thereof The polypeptide or fragment may be either free in solution, fixed to a support, expressed in or on the surface of a cell. Either the polypeptide or the compound may be labeled, thereby permitting determining of binding.

In another embodiment, the assay may measure the inhibition of binding of CAR-1 to a natural or artificial substrate or binding partner. Competitive binding assays can be performed in which one of the agents (CAR-1, binding partner or compound) is labeled. Usually, the polypeptide will be the labeled species. One may measure the amount of free label versus bound label to determine binding or inhibition of binding.

Another technique for high throughput screening of compounds is described in WO 84/03564. Large numbers of small peptide test compounds are synthesized on a solid substrate, such as plastic pins or some other surface. The peptide test compounds are reacted with CAR-1 and washed. Bound polypeptide is detected by various methods.

Purified CAR-1 can be coated directly onto plates for use in the aforementioned drug screening techniques. However, non-neutralizing antibodies to the polypeptide can be used to immobilize the polypeptide to a solid phase. Also, fusion proteins containing a reactive region (preferably a terminal region) may be used to link the CAR-1 active region to a solid phase.

Various cell lines containing wild-type or natural or engineered mutations in CAR-1 can be used to study various functional attributes of CAR-1 and how a candidate compound affects these attributes. Methods for engineering mutations are described elsewhere in this document, as are naturally-occurring mutations in CAR-1 that lead to, contribute to and/or otherwise cause malignancy. In such assays, the compound would be formulated appropriately, given its biochemical nature, and contacted with a target cell. Depending on the assay, culture may be required. The cell may then be examined by virtue of a number of different physiologic assays. Alternatively, molecular analysis may be performed in which the function of CAR-1, or related pathways, may be explored. This may involve assays such as those for protein expression, enzyme function, substrate utilization, phosphorylation states of various molecules including CAR-1, cAMP levels, mRNA expression (including differential display of whole cell or polyA RNA) and others.

B. In Vivo Assays

The present invention also encompasses the use of various animal models. Here, the identity seen between human and mouse CAR-1 provides an excellent opportunity to examine the function of CAR-1 in a whole animal system where it is normally expressed. By developing or isolating mutant cells lines that fail to express normal CAR-1, one can generate cancer models in mice that will be highly predictive of cancers in humans and other mammals. These models may employ the orthotopic or systemic administration of tumor cells to mimic primary and/or metastatic cancers. Alternatively, one may induce cancers in animals by providing agents known to be responsible for certain events associated with malignant transformation and/or tumor progression. Finally, transgenic animals (discussed below) that lack a wild-type CAR-1 may be utilized as models for cancer development and treatment.

Treatment of animals with test compounds will involve the administration of the compound, in an appropriate form, to the animal. Administration will be by any route the could be utilized for clinical or non-clinical purposes, including but not limited to oral, nasal, buccal, rectal, vaginal or topical. Alternatively, administration may be by intratracheal instillation, bronchial instillation, intradermal, subcutaneous, intramuscular, intraperitoneal or intravenous injection. Specifically contemplated are systemic intravenous injection, regional administration via blood or lymph supply and intratumoral injection.

Determining the effectiveness of a compound in vivo may involve a variety of different criteria. Such criteria include, but are not limited to, survival, reduction of tumor burden or mass, arrest or slowing of tumor progression, elimination of tumors, inhibition or prevention of metastasis, increased activity level, improvement in immune effector function and improved food intake.

C. Rational Drug Design

The goal of rational drug design is to produce structural analogs of biologically active polypeptides or compounds with which they interact (agonists, antagonists, inhibitors, binding partners, etc.). By creating such analogs, it is possible to fashion drugs which are more active or stable than the natural molecules, which have different susceptibility to alteration or which may affect the function of various other molecules. In one approach, one would generate a three-dimensional structure for CAR-1 or a fragment thereof. This could be accomplished by x-ray crystallograph, computer modeling or by a combination of both approaches. An alternative approach, “alanine scan,” involves the random replacement of residues throughout molecule with alanine, and the resulting affect on function determined.

It also is possible to isolate a CAR-1-specific antibody, selected by a functional assay, and then solve its crystal structure. In principle, this approach yields a pharmacore upon which subsequent drug design can be based. It is possible to bypass protein crystallograph altogether by generating anti-idiotypic antibodies to a functional, pharmacologically active antibody. As a mirror image of a mirror image, the binding site of anti-idiotype would be expected to be an analog of the original antigen. The anti-idiotype could then be used to identify and isolate peptides from banks of chemically- or biologically-produced peptides. Selected peptides would then serve as the pharmacore. Anti-idiotypes may be generated using the methods described herein for producing antibodies, using an antibody as the antigen.

Thus, one may design drugs which have improved CAR-1 activity or which act as stimulators, inhibitors, agonists, antagonists or CAR-1 or molecules affected by CAR-1 function. By virtue of the availability of cloned CAR-1 sequences, sufficient amounts of CAR-1 can be produced to perform crystallographic studies. In addition, knowledge of the polypeptide sequences permits computer employed predictions of structure-function relationships.

VII. Transgenics

In one embodiment of the invention, transgenic animals are produced which contain a functional transgene encoding a functional CAR-1 polypeptide or variants thereof Transgenic animals expressing CAR-1 transgenes, recombinant cell lines derived from such animals and transgenic embryos may be useful in methods for screening for and identifying agents that induce or repress function of CAR-1. Transgenic animals of the present invention also can be used as models for studying indications such as cancers.

In one embodiment of the invention, a CAR-1 transgene is introduced into a non-human host to produce a transgenic animal expressing a human or murine CAR-1 gene. The transgenic animal is produced by the integration of the transgene into the genome in a manner that permits the expression of the transgene. Methods for producing transgenic animals are generally described by Wagner and Hoppe (U.S. Pat. No. 4,873,191; which is incorporated herein by reference), Brinster et al. 1985; which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety) and in “Manipulating the Mouse Embryo; A Laboratory Manual” 2nd edition (eds., Hogan, Beddington, Costantimi and Long, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 1994; which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety).

It may be desirable to replace the endogenous CAR-1 by homologous recombination between the transgene and the endogenous gene; or the endogenous gene may be eliminated by deletion as in the preparation of “knock-out” animals. Typically, a CAR-1 gene flanked by genomic sequences is transferred by microinjection into a fertilized egg. The microinjected eggs are implanted into a host female, and the progeny are screened for the expression of the transgene. Transgenic animals may be produced from the fertilized eggs from a number of animals including, but not limited to reptiles, amphibians, birds, mammals, and fish. Within a particularly preferred embodiment, transgenic mice are generated which overexpress CAR-1 or express a mutant form of the polypeptide. Alternatively, the absence of one or both alleles of a CAR-1 gene in “knock-out” mice permits the study of the effects that a reduction in or loss of CAR-1 protein has on a cell in vivo. Knock-out mice also provide a model for the development of CAR-1-related cancers.

As noted above, transgenic animals and cell lines derived from such animals may find use in certain testing experiments. In this regard, transgenic animals and cell lines capable of expressing wild-type or mutant CAR-1 may be exposed to test substances. These test substances can be screened for the ability to enhance wild-type CAR-1 expression and or function or impair the expression or function of mutant CAR-1.


The following examples are included to demonstrate preferred embodiments of the invention. It should be appreciated by those of skill in the art that the techniques disclosed in the examples which follow represent techniques discovered by the inventor to function well in the practice of the invention, and thus can be considered to constitute preferred modes for its practice. However, those of skill in the art should, in light of the present disclosure, appreciate that many changes can be made in the specific embodiments which are disclosed and still obtain a like or similar result without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

Example 1

Functional Analysis of Chromosomes in Cancer

In earlier studies, the inventors defined a novel genetic locus, Nonpapillary Renal Carcinoma-1 (NRC-1), that mediates tumor suppression and rapid cell death of different histologic types of RCC (Renal Cell Carcinoma) in vivo (Sanchez et al., 1994). In addition, the inventors constructed defined fragment-containing microcell hybrids that are either suppressed or unsuppressed for tumorigenicity in vivo and which narrow the region containing NRC-1 to 1–2 Mb within 3p12 (Lott et al., 1998). It is probable that at least one gene within the NRC-1 locus functions as tumor suppressor gene and that disruption of this gene is involved in the development of sporadic renal cell carcinoma, and potentially, other histologically diverse cancers.

In order to identify the genes responsible for the tumor suppression phenotype, the inventors employed a subtractive hybridization screening strategy. Using Clontech's PCR-Select cDNA Subtraction Kit, they subtracted the hybrid containing the minimal region of chromosome 3p that exhibits the tumor suppression phenotype against the hybrid containing the smaller piece of chromosome 3p which is nonsuppressed. The screening strategy should allow identification of rare as well as abundant messages that are absolutely differentially expressed or are enriched in the suppressing hybrid. Additionally, this screening strategy allows identification of genes which are expressed from the chromosome 3 locus, as well as other genes downstream in the tumor suppression pathway. From this screen, 900 clones containing partial cDNA inserts of sizes ranging from 150–1100 bp were obtained. One clone, CAR-1, did not map back to chromosome 3p12, but rather mapped to the short arm of chromosome 1. This gene is, therefore, a putative downstream target of the tumor suppressor activity contributed by the suppressing region of chromosome 3p12.

Example 2

Preliminary Data Supporting CAR-1 as a Tumor Suppressor Gene

Specifically, CAR-1 maps to chromosome 1p31-1p36. Interestingly, one of five RCC cell lines recently established in our laboratory not only has a deletion in 3p12, but also has a (Sanchez et al., 1994; Bomme et al., 1994) chromosomal translocation with the breakpoint at 1p. Fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) mapping using the CAR-1 cDNA as a probe revealed CAR-1 signal on the intact chromosome 1 only. Mouse hybrid cells lines containing human chromosomes 1, 3, 4, and 8 were subjected to PCR with primers specific to a 438 bp fragment of exon 3 of CAR-1. Only the cell line containing human chromosome 1 provided template sufficient to amplify the fragment, additionally confirming that CAR-1 maps to chromosome 1. The 1p31-36 region of chromosome 1 has also shown LOH in other types of cancer such as neuroblastoma and cancers of the breast and colon (Bomme et al., 1994; Biech et al., 1993; Kovacs et al., 1988; Da Vinci et al., 1996). With this evidence further supporting CAR-1's potential role in the initiation and/or progression of RCC, and possibly other cancers, the inventors then sought to obtain a full-length cDNA clone.

The original 700 bp cDNA obtained from the subtraction was used to screen a retinoic acid induced NT2 neuroepithelial cDNA library. Sequence analysis of the 3.3 kb phagemid insert, although still not full length cDNA, suggested that CAR-1 is a novel gene of the RBCC RING-finger subfamily (FIG. 1). In order to obtain the full-length cDNA sequence, 5′ RACE was performed on cDNA from adult normal kidney using the Marathon™ cDNA amplification kit from Clontech™ according to the manufacturer's specifications. RACE products were gel purified, cloned into the TA vector from Invitrogen™ and sequenced by automated process. The translated amino acid sequence predicts that CAR-1 contains all three RBCC domains (also known as a tripartite sequence motif): a N-terminal RING finger Zn binding motif followed by B-box Zn binding motif, and a helical coiled coil domain (Saurin et al., 1996). A C-terminal (rfp) domain is also predicted. In previous work by the inventors, this tumor suppressor had been designated as 7b5. The suppressor is now denoted as Cancer Associated Ring-1, in keeping with its membership in the RING finger protein family.

Three known RBCC subfamily members become oncogenic when chromosomal translocations result in fusion proteins. The PML gene becomes fused with retinoic acid receptor alpha (RARA) in acute promyelocytic leukemia (Pandolfi, 1996), the RET oncogene is Rfp (RET finger protein) fused to a tyrosine kinase domain (Isomura et al., 1992), and TIF1 becomes oncogenic when fused to the B-Raf proto-oncogene (Le Dourain et al., 1995). Additional gene products that contain one or more of the RBCC domains are also associated with tumorigenesis. The BRCA1 gene product contains a N-terminal RING finger domain (Miki et al., 1994) and is a tumor suppressor gene believed to account for approximately 40 to 50% of all familial cases of breast cancer (Szabo & King, 1995). Among the roles of BRCA1 is its interaction with BARD1 (BRCA1 associated RING domain protein), which also contains an N-terminal RING motif (Wu et al., 1994). BARD1/BRCA1 interaction is interrupted by missense mutations within the RING domain of BRCA1 indicating that the RING finger is responsible for protein-protein interactions and that these interactions may be involved in the mediation tumor suppression by BRCA1 (Wu et al., 1994).

Furthermore, the fact that disease-associated missense mutations have been identified within the RING finger (Couch & Weber, 1996) underscores the importance of the domain function for normal activity of the gene. Another related gene is the 11A1.3A gene, whose gene product lacks the RING finger but contains the B Box and coiled coil domains, and is a an established marker used for the diagnosis and monitoring of epithelial ovarian cancer. Other RBCC family members have been shown to be important for development and signal transduction. Significantly, both BRCA1 and TIF1 are phosphoproteins that become localized to the nucleus and are putative transcription factors (Pandolfi, 1996; Le Dourain et al., 1995). In short, CAR-1 shares interesting structural motifs with an important class of genes, many of which play roles in oncogenesis.

Preliminary expression studies further support CAR-1's putative role as a tumor suppressor gene. A multiple tissue Northern blot containing poly A+RNA from human tissues (Clontech) shows a primary CAR-1 transcript of approximately 4.4 kb in all tissues (FIG. 2). This expression pattern is much like other tumor suppressor genes that are thought to play a global role of tumor suppression. Both p53 and BRCA1 are examples of genes exhibiting this general expression pattern. Furthermore, if CAR-1 truly has tumor suppressor activity, one would additionally expect the expression to be disrupted in cancer. Thus, the inventors looked for loss of CAR-1 expression in RCC cell lines because it is the cancer-type on which the original subtraction was performed, and in breast and colon cancer cell lines since LOH of a tumor suppressor at chromosomal location at 1p31–36 has previously been indicated in these cancers. Expression of CAR-1 transcript was examined by Northern blot analysis and/or by RNAse protection assays (RPA). One of the five RCC cell lines examined shows loss of expression (LOE) of the CAR-1 transcript as shown in the RPA in FIG. 3. This cell line, KRC 6, is the one previously mentioned to contain the (Sanchez et al., 1994; Bomme et al., 1994) translocation and to only have one copy of CAR-1 on the normal chromosome 1. It appears that expression of CAR-1 from that chromosome has been disrupted. Significantly, three of the seven breast lines (FIGS. 3 & 4) and three of the three colon lines (FIG. 3) have also exhibited a decrease in, or a loss of expression of CAR-1. Finally, upon comparing 6 pairs of matched tumor/normal samples from colon, five tumor samples show a lower level of CAR-1 expression upon comparison to the adjacent normal tissue (FIG. 5). This expression data is consistent with this gene having tumor suppressive activity.

Example 3

Generation of Anti-Peptide Antibodies Against CAR-1

Anti-peptide antibodies were generated to the amino terminal and carboxyl terminal regions of the CAR-1 protein. Laser gene sequence analysis software was utilized to identify non-conserved regions of CAR-1 that also scored highly for antigenicity. Peptide synthesis was performed by Bethyl Laboratories. Peptides were purified by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and their composition verified by amino acid analysis. Polyclonal antibody production was performed by Bethyl Laboratories. Rabbits were immunized with CAR-1 peptides conjugated to bovine serum albumin. Anti-CAR-1 antibodies were affinity-purified using C-terminal or N-terminal CAR-1 peptide linked to activated thiol-Sepharose beads. Multiple bands were detected on Western blots using affinity-purified C-terminal anti-CAR-1 antibody. This antibody detects a band of the appropriate size (about 54 kd) that is either absent or greatly diminished in expression in the cell line KRC-6 containing the translocation chromosome and showing loss of expression of CAR-1 mRNA (FIG. 6).


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1. A method for suppressing growth of a cancer cell comprising directly contacting said cell with an expression cassette comprising a polynucleotide encoding a polypeptide having the sequence of SEQ ID NO:1 or SEQ ID NO:2, wherein said polynucleotide is under the control of a promoter operable in eukaryotic cells.
2. The method of claim 1, wherein said promoter is heterologous to the polynucleotide sequence.
3. The method of claim 2, wherein said promoter is selected from the group consisting of hsp68, SV40, CMV, MKC, GAL4UAS, HSV and β-actin.
4. The method of claim 2, wherein said promoter is a tissue specific promoter.
5. The method of claim 2, wherein said promoter is an inducible promoter.
6. The method of claim 2, wherein said expression cassette is contained in a viral vector.
7. The method of claim 6, wherein said viral vector is selected from the group consisting of a retroviral vector, an adenoviral vector, and adeno-associated viral vector, a vaccinia viral vector, and a herpesviral vector.
8. The method of claim 1, wherein said expression cassette further comprises a polyadenylation signal.
9. The method of claim 1, wherein said expression cassette comprises a second polynucleotide encoding a second polypeptide.
10. A method for altering the phenotype of a tumor cell comprising the step of directly contacting the cell with a nucleic acid comprising (i) a region encoding a tumor suppressor designated CAR-1 having the sequence of SEQ ID NO:1 or SEQ ID NO :2 and (ii) a promoter active in said tumor cell, wherein said promoter is operably linked to the region encoding said tumor suppressor, under conditions permitting the uptake of said nucleic acid by said tumor cell.
11. The method of claim 10, wherein said tumor cell is derived from a tissue selected from the group consisting of brain, lung, liver, spleen, kidney, lymph node, small intestine, blood cells, pancreas, colon, stomach, breast, endometrium, prostate, testicle, ovary, skin, head and neck, esophagus, bone marrow and blood tissue.
12. The method of claim 11, wherein the phenotype is selected from the group consisting of apoptosis, angiogenesis, proliferation, migration, contact inhibition, soft agar growth or cell cycling.
13. The method of claim 11, wherein said nucleic acid is encapsulated in a liposome.
14. The method of claim 11, wherein said nucleic acid is a viral vector selected from the group consisting of retrovirus, adenovirus, adeno-associated virus, vaccinia virus and herpesvirus.
15. The method of claim 14, wherein said nucleic acid is encapsulated in a viral particle.
16. A method for treating a subject with cancer comprising the step of directly administering to a cancer cell in said subject a nucleic acid comprising (i) a region encoding a tumor suppressor designated CAR-1 having the sequence of SEQ ID NO:1 or SEQ ID NO:2 and (ii) a promoter active in eukaryotic cells, wherein said promoter is operably linked to the region encoding said tumor suppressor.
17. The method of claim 16, wherein said cancer cell is derived from a tissue selected from the group consisting of brain, lung, liver, spleen, kidney, lymph node, small intestine, blood cells, pancreas, colon, stomach, breast, endometrium, prostate, testicle, ovary, skin, head and neck, esophagus, bone marrow and blood tissue.
18. The method of claim 16, wherein the subject is a human.