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Title:  Modified MSP-1 nucleic acid sequences and methods for increasing MRNA levels and protein expression in cell systems

United States Patent:  6,593,463

Issued:  July 15, 2003

Inventors:  Chen; Li How (Acton, MA); Meade; Harry (Newton, MA)

Assignee:  Genzyme Transgenics Corporation (Framingham, MA)

Appl. No.:  175684

Filed:  October 20, 1998

Abstract

The invention provides modified recombinant nucleic acid sequences (preferably DNA) and methods for increasing the mRNA levels and protein expression of malarial surface protein MSP-1 which is known to be difficult to express in cell culture systems, mammalian cell culture systems, or in transgenic animals. The preferred protein candidates for expression using the recombinant techniques of the invention are MSP-1 proteins expressed from DNA coding sequences comprising reduced overall AT content or AT rich regions and/or mRNA instability motifs and/or rare codons relative to the native MSP-1 gene.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides improved recombinant DNA compositions and procedures for increasing the mRNA levels and protein expression of the malarial surface antigen MSP-1 in cell culture systems, mammalian cell culture systems, or in transgenic mammals. The preferred protein candidate for expression in an expression system in accordance with the invention is a C-terminal derivative of MSP-1 having a DNA coding sequence with reduced AT content, and eliminated mRNA instability motifs and rare codons relative to the recombinant expression systems. Thus, in a first aspect, the invention provides a DNA sequence derived from the sequence shown in SEQ ID NO 2. This derivative sequence is shown in SEQ ID NO 1.

In a second aspect, the invention provides a process for preparing a modified nucleic acid of the invention comprising the steps of lowering the overall AT content of the natural gene encoding MSP-1, eliminating all mRNA instability motifs and replacing all rare codons with a preferred codon of the mammary gland tissue, all by replacing specific codons in the natural gene with codons recognizable to, and preferably preferred by mammary gland tissue and which code for the same amino acids as the replaced codon. This aspect of the invention further includes modified nucleic acids prepared according to the process of the invention.

In a third aspect, the invention also provides vectors comprising modified MSP-1 nucleic acids of the invention and a goat beta casein promoter and signal sequence, and host cells transformed with nucleic acids of the invention.

In a fourth aspect, the invention provides transgenic non-human mammals whose germlines comprise a nucleic acid of the invention.

In a fifth aspect, the invention provides a DNA vaccine comprising a modified MSP-1 gene according to the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The patent and scientific literature referred to herein establishes the knowledge that is available to those with skill in the art. The issued US patents, allowed applications, published foreign applications, and references cited herein are hereby incorporated by reference. Any conflicts between these references and the present disclosure shall be resolved in favor of the present disclosure.

The present invention provides improved recombinant DNA compositions and procedures for increasing the mRNA levels and protein expression of the malarial surface antigen MSP-1 in cell culture systems, mammalian cell culture systems, or in transgenic mammals. The preferred protein candidate for expression in an expression system in accordance with the invention is a C-terminal derivative of MSP-1 having a DNA coding sequence with reduced AT content, and eliminated mRNA instability motifs and rare codons relative to the recombinant expression systems. Thus, in a first aspect, the invention provides a DNA sequence derived from the sequence shown in SEQ ID NO 2. This derivative sequence is shown in SEQ ID NO 1.

In preferred embodiments, the nucleic acid of the invention is capable of expressing MSP-1 in mammalian cell culture systems, or in transgenic mammals at a level which is at least 25%, and preferably 50% and even more preferably at least 100% or more of that expressed by the natural gene in mammalian cell culture systems, or in transgenic mammals under identical conditions.

As used herein, the term "expression" is meant mRNA transcription resulting in protein expression. Expression may be measured by a number of techniques known in the art including using an antibody specific for the protein of interest. By "natural gene" or "native gene" is meant the gene sequence, or fragments thereof (including naturally occurring allelic variations), which encode the wild type form of MSP-1 and from which the modified nucleic acid is derived. A "preferred codon "means a codon which is used more prevalently by the cell or tissue type in which the modified MSP-1 gene is to be expressed, for example, in mammary tissue. Not all codon chances described herein are changes to a preferred codon, so long as the codon replacement is a codon which is at least recognized by the mouse mammary tissue. The term "reduced AT content" as used herein means having a lower overall percentage of nucleotides having A (adenine) or T (thymine) bases relative to the natural MSP-1 gene due to replacement of the A or T containing nucleotide positions or A and/or T containing codons with nucleotides or codons recognized by mouse mammary tissue and which do not change the amino acid sequence of the target protein.

In a second aspect, the invention provides a process for preparing a modified nucleic acid of the invention comprising the steps of lowering the overall AT content of the natural gene encoding MSP-1, eliminating all mRNA instability motifs and replacing all rare codons with a preferred codon of mammary gland tissue, all by replacing specific codons in the natural gene with codons recognizable to, and preferably preferred by mammary gland tissue and which code for the same amino acids as the replaced codon. Standard reference works describing the general principals of recombinant DNA technology include Watson, J. D. et al, Molecular Biology of the Gene, Volumes I and II the Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Company, Inc. publisher, Menlo Park, Calif. (1987) Darnell, J. E. et al., Molecular Cell Biology, Scientific American Books, Inc., Publisher, New York, N.Y. (1986); Old, R. W., et al., Principles of Gene Manipulation: An Introduction to Genetic Engineering, 2d edition, University of California Press, publisher, Berkeley Calif. (1981); Maniatis, T., et al., Molecular Cloning: A Laboratory, Manual, 2nd ed. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, publisher, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y. (1989) and Current Protocols in Molecular Biology, Ausubel et al., Wiley Press, New York, N.Y. (1992). This aspect of the invention further includes modified nucleic acids prepared according to the process of the invention.

Without being limited to any theory, previous research has indicated that a conserved AU sequence (AUUUA) from the 3' untranslated region of GM-CSF mRNA mediates selective mRNA degradation (Shaw, G. and Kamen, R. Cell 46:659-667). The focus in the past has been on the presence of these instability motifs in the untranslated region of a gene. The instant invention is the first to recognize an advantage to eliminating the instability sequences in the coding region of the MSP-1 gene.

In a third aspect, the invention also provides vectors comprising modified MSP-1 nucleic acids of the invention and a goat beta casein promoter and signal sequence, and host cells transformed with nucleic acids of the invention.

In a fourth aspect, the invention provides transgenic non-human mammals whose germlines comprise a nucleic acid of the invention. General principals for producing transgenic animals are known in the art. See for example Hogan et al., Manipulating the Mouse Embryo: A Laboratory Manual, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, (1986); Simons et al, Bio/Technology 6:179-183, (1988); Wall et al., Biol. Reprod. 32:645-651, (1985); Buhler et al., Bio/Technology, 8:140-143 (1990); Ebert et al., Bio/Technology 9:835-838 (1991); Krimenfort et al., Bio/Technology 9:844-847 (1991); Wall et al., J. Cell. Biochem. 49:113-120 (1992). Techniques for introducing foreign DNA sequences into mammals and their germ cells were originally developed in the mouse. See e.g., Gordon et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 77:7380-7384, (1980); Gordon and Ruddle, Science 214: 1244-1246 (1981); Palmiter and Brinster, Cell 41: 343-345, 1985; Brinster et al., Proc Natl. Acad Sci., USA 82:4438-4442 (1985) and Hogan et al. (ibid.). These techniques were subsequently adapted for use with larger animals including cows and goats. Up until very recently, the most widely used procedure for the generation of transgenic mice or livestock, several hundred linear molecules of the DNA of interest in the form of a transgenic expression construct are injected into one of the pro- nuclei of a fertilized egg. Injection of DNA into the cytoplasm of a zygote is also widely used. Most recently cloning of an entire transgenic cell line capable of injection into an unfertilized egg has been achieved (KHS Campbell et al., Nature 380 64-66, (1996)).

The mammary gland expression system has the advantages of high expression levels, low cost, correct processing and accessibility. Known proteins, such as bovine and human alpha-lactalbumin have been produced in lactating transgenic animals by several researchers. (Wright et al, Bio/Technology 9:830-834 (1991); Vilotte et al, Eur. J. Biochem.,186:43-48 (1989); Hochi et at., Mol Reprod. And Devel. 33:160-164 (1992); Soulier et al., FEBS Letters 297(1,2):13-18 (1992)) and the system has been shown to produce high levels of protein.

In a fifth aspect, the invention provides a DNA vaccine comprising a modified MSP-1 gene according to the invention. Such DNA vaccines may be delivered without encapsulation, or they may be delivered as part of a liposome, or as part of a viral genome. Generally, such vaccines are delivered in an amount sufficient to allow expression of the modified MSP-1 gene and to elicit an antibody response in an animal, including a human, which receives the DNA vaccine. Subsequent deliveries, at least one week after the first delivery, may be used to enhance the antibody response. Preferred delivery routes include introduction via mucosal membranes, as well as parenteral administration.

Claim 1 of 22 Claims

What is claimed is:

1. A modified nucleic acid sequence comprising SEQ ID NO 1.


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