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Mol Ther. 2000 Jan;1(1):18-30.

Type-specific epitope locations revealed by X-ray crystallographic study of adenovirus type 5 hexon.

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The Wistar Institute, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


A major obstacle to the use of adenovirus as a vector for gene therapy is the host immune response to hexon, the major protein component of the icosahedral capsid. A solution lies in creating novel vectors with modified or chimeric hexons to evade the immune response to native hexon. The crystal structure of hexon from human adenovirus type 5 (ad5), the type primarily used for gene therapy, has been determined to facilitate the design of such molecules. As the 951-amino-acid (aa) ad5 hexon sequence is closely related to that of ad2 (967 aa; 86% aa identity), the ad5 structure was solved by molecular replacement with a model constructed from the known ad2 hexon. During refinement, greater than 25% of the sequence was reassigned, resulting in a relocation of two epitope regions, from buried positions in the ad2 model to external sites at the top of the ad5 molecule. The resultant model is in better agreement with crystallographic data, while maintaining the overall topology of ad2 hexon. This work suggests that all hexons have the same basic fold and that the ad5 hexon structure provides an accurate and representative model for designing new adenovirus vectors.

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