Cross-dressing the virion: the transcapsidation of adeno-associated virus serotypes functionally defines subgroups.
For all adeno-associated virus (AAV) serotypes, 60 monomers of the Vp1, Vp2, and Vp3 structural proteins assemble via an unknown mechanism to form an intact capsid. In an effort to better understand the properties of the capsid monomers and their role in viral entry and infection, we evaluated whether monomers from distinct serotypes can be mixed to form infectious particles with unique phenotypes. This transcapsidation approach consisted of the transfection of pairwise combinations of AAV serotype 1 to 5 helper plasmids to produce mosaic capsid recombinant AAV (rAAV). All ratios (19:1, 3:1, 1:1, 1:3, and 1:19) of these mixtures were able to replicate the green fluorescent protein transgene and to produce capsid proteins. A high-titer rAAV was obtained with mixtures that included either serotype 1, 2, or 3, whereas an rAAV of intermediate titer was obtained from serotype 5 mixtures. Only mixtures containing the AAV4 capsid exhibited reduced packaging capacity. The binding profiles of the mixed-virus preparations to either heparin sulfate (HS) or mucin agarose revealed that only AAV3-AAV5 mixtures at the 3:1 ratio exhibited duality in binding. All other mixtures displayed either an abrupt shift or a gradual alteration in the binding profile to the respective ligand upon increase of a capsid component that conferred either HS or mucin binding. The transduction of cell lines was used to further evaluate the phenotypes of these transcapsidated virions. Three transduction profiles were observed: (i) small to no change regardless of ratio, (ii) a gradual increase in transduction consistent with titration of a second capsid component, or (iii) an abrupt increase in transduction (threshold effect) dependent on the specific ratios used. Interestingly, an unexpected synergistic effect in transduction was observed when AAV1 helper constructs were combined with type 2 or type 3 recipient helpers. Further studies determined that at least two components contributed to this observed synergy: (i) heparin-mediated binding from AAV2 and (ii) an unidentified enhancement activity from AAV1 structural proteins. Using this procedure of mixing different AAV helper plasmids to generate "cross-dressed" AAV virions, we propose an additional means of classifying new AAV serotypes into subgroups based on functional approaches to analyze AAV capsid assembly, receptor-mediated binding, and virus trafficking. Exploitation of this approach in generating custom-designed AAV vectors should be of significant value to the field of gene therapy.
Rabinowitz, JE; Bowles, DE; Faust, SM; Ledford, JG; Cunningham, SE; Samulski, RJ
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