Inherited deficiency of the CD40 ligand (X-linked hyper-IgM syndrome) is characterized by failure of immunoglobulin isotype switching and severe defects of cell-mediated immunity. To test the potential for gene transfer therapy to correct this disorder, we transduced murine bone marrow or thymic cells with a retroviral vector containing the cDNA for the murine CD40 ligand (CD40L) and injected them into CD40L(-/-) mice. Even low-level, constitutive expression of the transgene stimulated humoral and cellular immune functions in these mice. With extended follow-up, however, 12 of 19 treated mice developed T-lymphoproliferative disorders, ranging from polyclonal increases of lymphoblasts to overt monoclonal T-lymphoblastic lymphomas that involved multiple organs. Our findings show that constitutive (rather than tightly regulated), low-level expression of CD40L can produce abnormal proliferative responses in developing T lymphocytes, apparently through aberrant interaction between CD40L+ and TCRαβ+CD40+ thymocytes. Current methods of gene therapy may prove inappropriate for disorders involving highly regulated genes in essential positions in proliferative cascades.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)