The episomal vector cannot integrate into the host cell chromosome, which has no potential risk in gene therapy. However, the low level of transgene expression driven by episomal vectors needs to be solved. In this study, we investigated the effects of enhancers, promoters and promoter variants on transgene expression levels driven by episomal vectors in HEK293, Chang liver and primary cells. Results showed that all eight -acting elements used could increase transfection efficiency and transient expression in transfected HEK293 and Chang liver cells. In stably transfected mammalian cells, the elongation factor-1 alpha (EF-1α) promoter and mutant-404 showed high and stable transgene expression. The mechanisms might be related to the type and quantity of transcription factor regulatory elements. Moreover, quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction analysis showed that mRNA expression levels were not directly proportional to protein expression levels. Furthermore, the EF-1α promoter conferred high transgene expression levels in primary cells, and the plasmid was also present in the episomal state. Taken together, these results provided valuable information for improving transgene expression with episomal vectors in mammalian cells.
PMID: 31668126 [PubMed - in process]