Retrotransposons, such as long interspersed element-1 (LINE-1), can copy themselves to other genomic loci via a transposition event (termed retrotransposition). Retrotransposons, therefore, have potential use as an efficient gene delivery tool to integrate multiple copies of a target gene into a host genome. Here, we developed a retrotransposon vector based on LINE-1 that achieves target gene integration of multiple transgene copies. The retrotransposon vector contains a neomycin resistance gene split by an intron as a marker gene, and a gene encoding an antibody single-chain variable fragment (Fv) fused with the constant antibody region (Fc) (scFv-Fc) as a model target gene. G418-resistant Chinese hamster ovary cells were generated using this retrotransposon vector, and scFv-Fc was produced in the culture medium. To regulate retrotransposition, we developed a retrotransposon vector system that separately expressed the two open reading frames (ORF1 and ORF2) of LINE-1. Genomic PCR analysis detected the transgene sequence in almost all tested clones. Compared with clones established using the intact LINE-1 vector, clones generated with the split ORF1 and ORF2 system showed similar specific scFv-Fc productivity and retrotransposition efficiency. This approach of using a retrotransposon-based vector system has the potential to provide a new gene delivery tool for mammalian cells.
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