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J Virol. 2012 Oct;86(19):10484-93. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00739-12. Epub 2012 Jul 18.

Selective modification of adenovirus replication can be achieved through rational mutagenesis of the adenovirus type 5 DNA polymerase.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, New York, USA.


Mutations that reduce the efficiency of deoxynucleoside (dN) triphosphate (dNTP) substrate utilization by the HIV-1 DNA polymerase prevent viral replication in resting cells, which contain low dNTP concentrations, but not in rapidly dividing cells such as cancer cells, which contain high levels of dNTPs. We therefore tested whether mutations in regions of the adenovirus type 5 (Ad5) DNA polymerase that interact with the dNTP substrate or DNA template could alter virus replication. The majority of the mutations created, including conservative substitutions, were incompatible with virus replication. Five replication-competent mutants were recovered from 293 cells, but four of these mutants failed to replicate in A549 lung carcinoma cells and Wi38 normal lung cells. Purified polymerase proteins from these viruses exhibited only a 2- to 4-fold reduction in their dNTP utilization efficiency but nonetheless could not be rescued, even when intracellular dNTP concentrations were artificially raised by the addition of exogenous dNs to virus-infected A549 cells. The fifth mutation (I664V) reduced biochemical dNTP utilization by the viral polymerase by 2.5-fold. The corresponding virus replicated to wild-type levels in three different cancer cell lines but was significantly impaired in all normal cell lines in which it was tested. Efficient replication and virus-mediated cell killing were rescued by the addition of exogenous dNs to normal lung fibroblasts (MRC5 cells), confirming the dNTP-dependent nature of the polymerase defect. Collectively, these data provide proof-of-concept support for the notion that conditionally replicating, tumor-selective adenovirus vectors can be created by modifying the efficiency with which the viral DNA polymerase utilizes dNTP substrates.

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