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Hum Gene Ther. 2002 Mar 20;13(5):665-74.

Highly efficient and specific gene transfer to Purkinje cells in vivo using a herpes simplex virus I amplicon.

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Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa CSIC-UAM, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid 28049, Spain.


The transduction of cerebellar neurons in vivo with herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) amplicon carrying the lacZ gene has been investigated after injection of the vector in the cerebellar cortex, ventricles, and inferior olive of adult rats. Injection into the cerebellar cortex resulted in transduction of Purkinje cells near the needle tract and injection into the ventricles yielded no transduced neurons. In contrast, high transduction efficiency was achieved by vector injection into the inferior olive, resulting in one of three positive Purkinje cells all over the ipsilateral and contralateral cerebellar hemispheres. Because neurons in the deep cerebellar nuclei are also transduced, we suggest that the vector is delivered from the inferior olive to the cerebellar nuclei and then to Purkinje cells by retrograde axonal transport. Expression of the lacZ gene within Purkinje cells was surprisingly persistent and was maintained at the same level for at least 40 days. Importantly, no signs of either toxicity or inflammation were observed in the cerebellum after vector injection, except for the borders of the needle tract where some reactive astrocytes were detected. Indeed, motor coordination of treated animals was entirely normal, as assessed by the rota-rod test. These results demonstrate that HSV-1 amplicon vectors can effect safe and stable transgene expression in Purkinje cells in vivo, raising the possibility of using these vectors for long-term gene therapy of human cerebellar disorders.

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