Disclosing the Parameters Leading to High Productivity of Retroviral Producer Cells Lines: Evaluating Random Versus Targeted Integration

Vanessa S. Bandeira, Hélio A. Tomás, Evren Alici, Manuel J.T. Carrondo, Ana S. Coroadinha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)


Gammaretrovirus and lentivirus are the preferred viral vectors to genetically modify T and natural killer cells to be used in immune cell therapies. The transduction efficiency of hematopoietic and T cells is more efficient using gibbon ape leukemia virus (GaLV) pseudotyping. In this context gammaretroviral vector producer cells offer competitive higher titers than transient lentiviral vectors productions. The main aim of this work was to identify the key parameters governing GaLV-pseudotyped gammaretroviral vector productivity in stable producer cells, using a retroviral vector expression cassette enabling positive (facilitating cell enrichment) and negative cell selection (allowing cell elimination). The retroviral vector contains a thymidine kinase suicide gene fused with a ouabain-resistant Na+,K+-ATPase gene, a potential safer and faster marker. The establishment of retroviral vector producer cells is traditionally performed by randomly integrating the retroviral vector expression cassette codifying the transgene. More recently, recombinase-mediated cassette exchange methodologies have been introduced to achieve targeted integration. Herein we compared random and targeted integration of the retroviral vector transgene construct. Two retroviral producer cell lines, 293 OuaS and 293 FlexOuaS, were generated by random and targeted integration, respectively, producing high titers (on the order of 107 infectious particles·ml-1). Results showed that the retroviral vector transgene cassette is the key retroviral vector component determining the viral titers notwithstanding, single-copy integration is sufficient to provide high titers. The expression levels of the three retroviral constructs (gag-pol, GaLV env, and retroviral vector transgene) were analyzed. Although gag-pol and GaLV env gene expression levels should surpass a minimal threshold, we found that relatively modest expression levels of these two expression cassettes are required. Their levels of expression should not be maximized. We concluded, to establish a high producer retroviral vector cell line only the expression level of the genomic retroviral RNA, that is, the retroviral vector transgene cassette, should be maximized, both through (1) the optimization of its design (i.e., genetic elements composition) and (2) the selection of high expressing chromosomal locus for its integration. The use of methodologies identifying and promoting integration into high-expression loci, as targeted integration or high-throughput screening are in this perspective highly valuable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-90
Number of pages13
JournalHuman Gene Therapy Methods
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017


  • GalV pseudotypes
  • gene therapy
  • immunotherapies
  • retroviral vectors
  • stable production
  • targeted integration

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