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Methods. 2002 Oct;28(2):168-81.

Autonomous parvovirus vectors.

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Department of Dermatology and University of Colorado Cancer Center, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, 4200 East Ninth Avenue, Denver, CO 80262, USA.


Parvoviruses are small, icosahedral viruses (approximately 25 nm) containing a single-strand DNA genome (approximately 5 kb) with hairpin termini. Autonomous parvoviruses (APVs) are found in many species; they do not require a helper virus for replication but they do require proliferating cells (S-phase functions) and, in some cases, tissue-specific factors. APVs can protect animals from spontaneous or experimental tumors, leading to consideration of these viruses, and vectors derived from them, as anticancer agents. Vector development has focused on three rodent APVs that can infect human cells, namely, LuIII, MVM, and H1. LuIII-based vectors with complete replacement of the viral coding sequences can direct transient or persistent expression of transgenes in cell culture. MVM-based and H1-based vectors with substitution of transgenes for the viral capsid sequences retain viral nonstructural (NS) coding sequences and express the NS1 protein. The latter serves to amplify the vector genome in target cells, potentially contributing to antitumor activity. APV vectors have packaging capacity for foreign DNA of approximately 4.8 kb, a limit that probably cannot be exceeded by more than a few percent. LuIII vectors can be pseudotyped with capsid proteins from related APVs, a promising strategy for controlling tissue tropism and circumventing immune responses to repeated administration. Initial success has been achieved in targeting such a pseudotyped vector by genetic modification of the capsid. Subject to advances in production and purification methods, APV vectors have potential as gene transfer agents for experimental and therapeutic use, particularly for cancer therapy.

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