Efficient expression of exogenous genes in primary vascular cells using IRES-based retroviral vectors

Kyle J. Garton, Nicola Ferri, Elaine W. Raines

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Analysis of gene function in primary vascular cells has been particularly limited by low transfection efficiencies. Using internal ribosomal entry site (IRES)-based retroviral vectors, we demonstrate efficient infection (range of 45%-95%) of primary human endothelial and smooth muscle cells with genes varying in size from 1.3 to 4.5 kb. Because IRES vectors are designed to allow the expression of two genes from a single mRNA, we can show excellent correlation between the expression of a reporter gene and an inserted gene of interest. Reporter gene expression allows rapid (24-48 h) and unambiguous identification of transduced cells. Additionally, reporter gene expression can be used to isolate subpopulations of cells that express distinct levels of cistron 1 genes by flow cytometry and sorted cells maintain relative levels of gene expression over multiple passages in culture. Two examples of the usefulness of these vectors to characterize gene function in primary vascular cells include (i) the inhibition of endothelial cell inflammatory responses in a polyclonal population by the expression of a dominant negative inhibitor of nuclear factor-KB and (ii) monitoring the in vitro evolution of smooth muscle cells provided with a selective growth advantage by transduction with telomerase. Potential applications of retroviral expression strategies in vascular biology are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)830-843
Number of pages14
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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