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Hum Gene Ther. 2003 Jul 1;14(10):959-70.

Construction of a cytomegalovirus-based amplicon: a vector with a unique transfer capacity.

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Virus Cell Interaction Group, Medical Faculty, University of Halle-Wittenberg, 06120 Halle (Saale), Germany.


Cytomegalovirus (CMV) has a number of interesting properties that qualifies it as a vector for gene transfer. Especially appealing is the ability of the CMV genome to persist in hematopoietic progenitor cells and the packaging capacity of the viral capsid that accommodates a DNA genome of 230 kbp. In order to exploit the packaging capacity of the CMV capsid we investigated whether the principles of an amplicon vector can be applied to CMV. Amplicons are herpesviral vectors, which contain only the cis-active sequences required for replication and packaging of the vector genome. For construction of a CMV amplicon the sequences comprising the lytic origin of replication (orilyt) and the cleavage packaging recognition sites (pac) of human CMV were cloned onto a plasmid. A gene encoding the green fluorescent protein was used as a model transgene. The amplicon plasmid replicated in the presence of a CMV helper virus and was packaged into CMV particles, with replication and packaging being dependent on the presence of the orilyt and pac sequences. The packaged amplicon could be transferred to recipient cells and reisolated from the transduced cells. Analysis of the DNA isolated from CMV capsids revealed that the CMV amplicon was packaged as a concatemer with a size of approximately 210 kbp. The CMV amplicon vector has the potential to transfer therapeutic genes with a size of more than 200 kbp and thus provides a unique transfer capacity among viral vectors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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