Capsid-expressing DNA in AAV vectors and its elimination by use of an oversize capsid gene for vector production.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Gene therapy, Volume 18, Issue 4, p.411-7 (2011)


2011, capsid, Cells, Cultured, Center-Authored Paper, Dependovirus, DNA, Viral, Gene Transfer Techniques, Genetic Vectors, Genomics Core Facility, Human Biology Division, Humans, Introns, Shared Resources, Transduction, Genetic


Adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors have been shown to mediate persistent transduction in animal models of gene therapy. However, clinical trials with AAV vectors have shown that an immune response to AAV capsid protein can result in clearance of transduced cells. One source of capsid antigen is from the delivered vector virions, but expression of cap DNA impurities in AAV vector preparations might provide an alternative and persistent source of capsid antigen. Here we show that DNA without any AAV sequences can be packaged in AAV virions, and that both cap and rep DNA are packaged into AAV vectors produced by standard methods. Using a sensitive complementation assay, we also observed significant expression of capsid in cultured cells transduced with AAV vectors. In an attempt to solve this problem, we inserted a large intron into the cap gene to generate a capsid expression cassette (captron) that is too large for packaging into AAV virions. Both complementation assays and quantitative reverse-transcription PCR analysis showed that cultured cells infected with AAV vectors made with the captron plasmid expressed no detectable capsid. Elimination of transfer of capsid-expressing DNA may reduce immune responses to AAV vector-transduced cells and promote long-term expression of therapeutic proteins.