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Mol Ther. 2009 Mar;17(3):472-9. doi: 10.1038/mt.2008.272. Epub 2008 Dec 16.

Efficient intrathymic gene transfer following in situ administration of a rAAV serotype 8 vector in mice and nonhuman primates.

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  • 1Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale U649-Laboratoire de Thérapie Génique, CHU Hôtel-Dieu, Nantes, France.


The thymus is the primary site of T-cell development and plays a key role in the induction of self-tolerance. We previously showed that the intrathymic (i.t.) injection of a transgene-expressing lentiviral vector (LV) in mice can result in the correction of a T cell-specific genetic defect. Nevertheless, the efficiency of thymocyte transduction did not exceed 0.1-0.3% and we were unable to detect any thymus transduction in macaques. As such, we initiated studies to assess the capacity of recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) vectors to transduce murine and primate thymic cells. In vivo administration of AAV serotype 2-derived single-stranded AAV (ssAAV) and self-complementary AAV (scAAV) vectors pseudotyped with capsid proteins of serotypes 1, 2, 4, 5, and 8 demonstrated that murine thymus transduction was significantly enhanced by scAAV2/8. Transgene expression was detected in 5% of thymocytes and, notably, transduced cells represented 1% of peripheral T lymphocytes. Moreover, i.t. administration of scAAV2/8 particles in macaques, by endoscopic-mediated guidance, resulted in significant gene transfer. Thus, in healthy animals, where thymic gene transfer does not provide a selective advantage, scAAV2/8 is a unique tool promoting the in situ transduction of thymocytes with the subsequent export of gene-modified lymphocytes to the periphery.

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