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Hum Gene Ther. 2006 Jan;17(1):93-104.

Cloning of replication-incompetent herpes simplex viruses as bacterial artificial chromosomes to facilitate development of vectors for gene delivery into differentiated neurons.

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Laboratory of DNA Viruses, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


We have previously described the adaptation of a tetracycline-regulated system of gene expression for herpes simplex virus (HSV) vectors and demonstrated that such a system was capable of inducible foreign gene expression in irreversibly differentiated neurons. These studies suggested that such gene delivery vectors would be especially useful for studying the neuron in vitro. Here, we describe the cloning of a replication-incompetent HSV vector as a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) to facilitate vector construction. Using prokaryotic genetic techniques for allele replacement, we demonstrate the ease of manipulation of the BAC-containing vector, including the construction of vector mutations for which there is no simple phenotypic selection. Such constructions include the insertion of a tetracycline-regulated gene cassette into the UL41 gene for regulated gene expression and the mutation of the UL48 gene to reduce vector toxicity. In addition, HSV vectors cloned as BACs can be sequentially modified to make multiple changes to the vector platform. Finally, using the BAC system, we constructed an HSV vector that expressed an inducible human superoxide dismutase-1 (SOD1) gene for delivery into differentiated human NT-neurons (cells of the human embryonal carcinoma cell line NT2, which differentiate irreversibly into postmitotic neuron-like cells after treatment with retinoic acid). The results indicated that there is appreciable expression of SOD1 from this HSV vector in the presence of doxycycline and that vector-expressed SOD1 interacts with endogenous SOD1. Thus, the BAC system provides a practicable platform for construction and manipulation of HSV vectors that are suitable for gene delivery into postmitotic neurons in vitro.

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