Construction of a bicistronic proangiogenic expression vector and its application in experimental angiogenesis in vivo.

  • Maciej Małecki Department of Cell Biology, W.Roentgena 5, 02-781 Warszawa, Poland.;
  • Małgorzata Przybyszewska
  • Przemysław Janik


Manipulation of angiogenesis in vivo is an example of successful gene therapy strategies. Overexpression of angiogenic genes like VEGF, FGF or PDGF causes new vessel formation and improves the clinical state of patients. Gene therapy is a very promising procedure but requires large amounts of pharmaceutical-grade plasmid DNA. In this regard we have constructed a bicistronic plasmid DNA vector encoding two proangiogenic factors, VEGF165 and FGF-2. The construct (pVIF) contains the internal ribosome entry site (IRES) of the encephalomyocarditis virus (ECMV) which permits both genes to be translated from a single bicistronic mRNA. The IRES sequence allows for a high efficiency of gene expression in vivo. The pVIF vector was characterized in vitro and in vivo. In vivo angiogenesis studies showed that the bicistronic vector encoding two proangiogenic factors induces the formation of new vessels significantly more than pVEGF165 or pFGF-2 alone. In our opinion the combined proangiogenic approach with VEGF165 and FGF-2 is more powerful and efficient than single gene therapy. We also postulate that IRES sequence can serve as a useful device improving efficiency of gene therapy.