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Gene Ther. 2000 Dec;7(24):2122-31.

Virus-like gene transfer into cells mediated by polyoma virus pseudocapsids.

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MRC Clinical Sciences Centre, Imperial College School of Medicine, Hammersmith Hospital, Ducane Road, London, W12 0NN, UK.


Mouse polyoma virus-like particles (or pseudocapsids) are composed solely of recombinant viral coat protein. They can interact with DNA and transport it to cells, resulting in gene expression both in tissue culture and in mice. We demonstrate that DNA transfer in vitro depends on partial packaging of DNA within the virus-like capsid. Cell surface sialic acid residues and an intact microtubule network, required for viral infectivity, are also necessary for pseudocapsid-mediated gene expression from heterologous DNA. Thus, gene delivery in this system requires pathways utilised by polyoma virions, rather than proceeding via the 'nonspecific' endosomal route typical of nonviral systems such as liposomes or calcium phosphate precipitates. Despite the fact that all cells appear to internalise pseudocapsid/DNA complexes, only a proportion show productive gene delivery. Bulk internalisation of complexes is dependent on actin fibres, but not cell surface sialic acid or microtubules, indicating that a second transport pathway exists for pseudocapsids which is nonproductive for gene transfer. The model suggested by these data demonstrates the virus-like properties of the pseudocapsid system, and provides a basis for further development to produce a highly effective gene delivery vehicle. Gene Therapy (2000) 7, 2122-2131.

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