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Mol Ther. 2001 Apr;3(4):591-601.

Improved helper virus-free packaging system for HSV amplicon vectors using an ICP27-deleted, oversized HSV-1 DNA in a bacterial artificial chromosome.

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Molecular Neuro-Oncology Laboratories, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 149 13th Street, Massachusetts 02129, USA.


Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) amplicons are prokaryotic plasmids containing one or more transcriptional units and two cis-acting HSV-1 sequences: a viral origin of DNA replication and a viral DNA cleavage/packaging signal. In the presence of HSV-1 "helper" functions, amplicons are replicated and packaged into HSV-1 virions. Despite recent improvements in packaging methods, stocks of amplicon vectors are still contaminated with replication-competent helper virus at a frequency of 10(-4)-10(-6). To overcome this problem, we report that: (i) genetic modifications of HSV-1 genomes can be routinely achieved in Escherichia coli, either by homologous or site-specific recombination, (ii) a novel HSV-1 bacterial artificial chromosome (fHSVDeltapacDelta27 0+), which has a deletion in the essential gene encoding ICP27 and an addition of ICP0 "stuffer" sequences to increase its size to 178 kb, supports the replication and packaging of cotransfected amplicon DNA without generating replication-competent helper virus (<1 helper virus per 10(8) TU amplicon vectors), and (iii) the resulting amplicon stocks have titers of up to 3-10 x 10(8) TU/ml after concentration. Elimination of replication-competent helper virus from HSV-1 amplicon vector stocks further improves safety in gene transfer applications.

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