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BMC Biotechnol. 2010 Dec 23;10:92. doi: 10.1186/1472-6750-10-92.

Generation of cell lines to complement adenovirus vectors using recombination-mediated cassette exchange.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL, UK.



Adenovirus serotype 5 (Ad5) has many favourable characteristics for development as a gene therapy vector. However, the utility of current Ad5 vectors is limited by transient transgene expression, toxicity and immunogenicity. The most promising form of vector is the high capacity type, which is deleted for all viral genes. However, these vectors can only be produced to relatively low titres and with the aid of helper virus. Therefore a continuing challenge is the generation of more effective Ad5 vectors that can still be grown to high titres. Our approach is to generate complementing cell lines to support the growth of Ad5 vectors with novel late gene deficiencies.


We have used LoxP/Cre recombination mediated cassette exchange (RMCE) to generate cell lines expressing Ad5 proteins encoded by the L4 region of the genome, the products of which play a pivotal role in the expression of Ad5 structural proteins. A panel of LoxP parent 293 cell lines was generated, each containing a GFP expression cassette under the control of a tetracycline-regulated promoter inserted at a random genome location; the cassette also contained a LoxP site between the promoter and GFP sequence. Clones displayed a variety of patterns of regulation, stability and level of GFP expression. Clone A1 was identified as a suitable parent for creation of inducible cell lines because of the tight inducibility and stability of its GFP expression. Using LoxP-targeted, Cre recombinase-mediated insertion of an L4 cassette to displace GFP from the regulated promoter in this parent clone, cell line A1-L4 was generated. This cell line expressed L4 100K, 22K and 33K proteins at levels sufficient to complement L4-33K mutant and L4-deleted viruses.


RMCE provides a method for rapid generation of Ad5 complementing cell lines from a pre-selected parental cell line, chosen for its desirable transgene expression characteristics. Parent cell lines can be selected for high or low gene expression, and for tight regulation, allowing viral protein expression to mirror that found during infection. Cell lines derived from a single parent will allow the growth of different vectors to be assessed without the complication of varying complementing protein expression.

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