Abstract

Introduction: AAV-mediated gene transfer of blood coagulation Factor IX (FIX) has been established as a safe and long-term treatment for patients suffering from severe hereditary Haemophilia B. A gain-of-function F9 transgene (F9-R338L; Padua) has recently been used to achieve higher functional levels of FIX, effectively eliminating the need for regular prophylaxis. The naturally-occurring R338L Padua mutation is situated in the catalytic domain of FIX on a helical side loop (region 332-339) that is involved in FVIIIa-mediated stimulation of substrate turnover. Here, we examined if a single amino acid substitution of a lysine at position 301 leads to gain of function. This basic residue sits adjacent to the 332-339 loop on an exposed helical segment (292-303) that has been implicated to interact with the FVIIIa A2 domain in the FIXa-FVIIIa tenase complex.

Methods: We examined the lysine at position 301 (numbering based on mature polypeptide chain) in more detail by conservative mutation to arginine (K301R) and non-conservative mutation to leucine (K301L). To assess specific FIX activity, F9-K301 variants were transiently expressed in HEK293T cells and tested for antigenic FIX levels and chromogenic activity 48 hours post transfection. To assess specific activity in plasma, AAV-mediated gene transfer (1x1010vg/mouse) of F9-K301 variants in hemophilia B knock-out mice (CL57B6) was carried out. In addition, we investigated whether the F9-K301R mutation enhances specific activity in combination with the F9-R338L Padua mutation via site-specific genome integration.

Results: Transient transfection of F9-K301 variants in HEK293T cells showed a 25% increase in specific activity with F9-K301R but a 50% reduction in activity with F9-K301L as compared to wild type F9 (WT-F9). Validation of gain-of-function was done by AAV-mediated gene transfer in hemophilia B knock-out mice. Four weeks post injection, plasma FIX antigen levels were similar in mice transduced with either F9-K301R (0.91±0.3 U/ml; N=3), F9-K301L (0.93±0.0 U/ml; N=2) or WT-F9 (0.94±0.19 U/ml; N=4) constructs. Interestingly, specific chromogenic activity in plasma from F9-K301R mice (2.71±0.66 U/ml) was more than 2-fold higher compared to plasma from mice in the WT-F9 cohort (1.25±0.2 U/ml). On the other hand, specific activity in the F9-K301L cohort (0.37±0.07 U/ml) was reduced compared to wild type F9, consistent with a haemophilic phenotype. Next, we investigated whether the F9-K301R mutation enhances activity in combination with the F9-R338L Padua mutation. To do so, we stably expressed wild type FIX (WT-FIX) and three FIX gain-of-function variants (FIX-K301R, FIX-R338L and FIX-K301R/R338L) in HEK293 cells via site-specific genome integration. Interestingly, higher FIX antigen levels were observed in conditioned media from cells (1.5x106) stably expressing FIX-K301R (0.14±0.01 U/ml) FIX-R338L (0.11±0.01 U/ml) and FIX-K301R/R338L (0.10±0.01 U/ml) relative to cells expressing WT-FIX (0.08±0.01 U/ml). Similar to previous results, specific chromogenic activity was more than 2-fold higher in FIX-K301R (1.25±0.08 U/ml) compared to WT-FIX (0.54±0.06 U/ml). In addition, specific activity was higher in FIX-K301R/R338L (7.71±0.35 U/ml) compared to FIX-R338L (6.69±0.32 U/ml), suggesting molecular synergism between both gain-of-function mutations. Ongoing studies are focused on characterizing these recombinant FIX variants in purified and plasma-based activity assays and unraveling the mechanism(s) leading to increased expression/secretion of these gain-of-function variants.

Conclusion: In summary, these results show that the K301R mutation enhances catalytic activity of FIX in vitro and in vivo and synergistically enhances activity in combination with the R338L Padua mutation. As such, this gain-of-function mutation could potentially serve to facilitate higher levels of FIX activity in the plasma of Haemophilia B patients following AAV-mediated gene transfer.

Disclosures

Verhoef:Freeline: Employment, Equity Ownership. Foley:Freeline: Employment, Equity Ownership. Goodale:Freeline: Employment, Equity Ownership. Macrae:Freeline: Employment, Equity Ownership. McIntosh:BioMarin: Patents & Royalties; Freeline: Consultancy, Equity Ownership. Corbau:Freeline: Employment, Equity Ownership. Nathwani:Freeline: Consultancy, Equity Ownership, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees.

Author notes

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Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.