Gene transfer of a human cocaine hydrolase (hCocH) derived from butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) by 5 mutations (A199S/F227A/S287G/A328W/Y332G) has shown promise in animal studies for treatment of cocaine addiction. To predict the physiological fate and immunogenicity of this enzyme in humans, a comparable enzyme was created and tested in a conspecific host. Thus, similar mutations (A199S/<bold>S227</bold>A/S287G/A328W/Y332G) were introduced into mouse BChE to obtain a mouse CocH (mCocH). The cDNA was incorporated into viral vectors based on: a) serotype-5 helper-dependent adenovirus (hdAD) with ApoE promoter, and b) serotype-8 adeno-associated virus with CMV promoter (AAV-CMV) or multiple promoter and enhancer elements (AAV-VIP). Experiments on substrate kinetics of purified mCocH expressed in HEK293T cells showed 30-fold higher activity (U/mg) with 3H-cocaine and 25% lower activity with butyrylthiocholine, compared with wild type BChE. In mice given modest doses of AAV-CMV-mCocH vector (0.7 or 3×1011 particles) plasma hydrolase activity rose 10-fold above control for over one year with no observed immune response. Under the same conditions, transduction of the human counterpart continued less than 2 months and antibodies to hCocH were readily detected. The advanced AAV-VIP-mCocH vector generated a dose-dependent rise in plasma cocaine hydrolase activity from 20-fold (1010 particles) to 20,000 fold (1013 particles), while the hdAD vector (1.7×1012 particles) yielded a 300,000-fold increase. Neither vector caused adverse reactions such as motor weakness, elevated liver enzymes, or disturbance in spontaneous activity. Furthermore, treatment with high dose hdAD-ApoE-mCocH vector (1.7×1012 particles) prevented locomotor abnormalities, other behavioral signs, and release of hepatic alanine amino transferase after a cocaine dose fatal to most control mice (120 mg/kg). This outcome suggests that viral gene transfer can yield clinically effective cocaine hydrolase expression for lengthy periods without immune reactions or cholinergic dysfunction, while blocking toxicity from drug overdose.
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