• gutless adenovirus;
  • helper-dependent adenovirus;
  • lentivirus;
  • muscle;
  • muscular dystrophy;
  • promoter



Gutless adenovirus (helper-dependent adenoviral vector; HDAd) and lentiviral vectors (LV) are attractive vectors for the gene therapy of muscle diseases. Because the organization of their DNA (episomal versus integrated) differs, we investigated whether the strength and specificity of ΔUSEx3, a novel muscle-specific promoter previously tested with plasmid, were maintained in the context of these vectors.


Two HDAds expressing β-galactosidase regulated by ΔUSEx3 or CAG [cytomegalovirus (CMV) enhancer/β-actin promoter], and three LV expressing green fluorescent protein regulated by ΔUSEx3, CMV or a modified skeletal α-actin promoter (SPcΔ5-12), were constructed. Gene expression was compared in cell culture and after intravenous (HDAd only) and intramuscular injection of mice.


Irrespective of the vector used, ΔUSEx3 remained poorly active in nonmuscle cells and tissues. In myotubes, ΔUSEx3 was as strong as CMV and SPcΔ5-12, although it was ten-fold weaker than CAG, a proven powerful promoter in muscle. In cell culture, ΔUSEx3 activity in the context of LV was more stable than CMV, indicating it is less prone to silencing. In the context of HDAd, the behavior of ΔUSEx3 in skeletal muscle mirrored that of cell culture (10% of the CAG activity and half the number of transduced fibers). Surprisingly, in muscles treated with LV, ΔUSEx3 activity was five-fold lower than SPcΔ5-12.


The data obtained in the present study confirm that ΔUSEx3 is a strong and robust muscle-specific promoter in the context of HDAd (cell culture and in vivo) and LV (cell culture). However, it was less efficient in vivo in the context of LV.

Copyright © 2012 National Research Council Canada & John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.