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Gene Ther. 2008 Oct;15(20):1384-96. doi: 10.1038/gt.2008.87. Epub 2008 May 15.

Visualization of targeted transduction by engineered lentiviral vectors.

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Mork Family Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA.


We have reported a method to target lentiviral vectors to specific cell types. This method requires the incorporation of two distinct molecules on the viral vector surface: one is an antibody that renders the targeting specificity for the engineered vector, and the other is a fusogenic protein that allows the engineered vector to enter the target cell. However, the molecular mechanism that controls the targeted infection needs to be defined. In this report, we tracked the individual lentiviral particles by labeling the virus with the GFP-Vpr fusion protein. We were able to visualize the surface-displayed proteins on a single virion as well as antibody-directed targeting to a desired cell type. We also demonstrated the dynamics of virus fusion with endosomes and monitored endosome-associated transport of viruses in target cells. Our results suggest that the fusion between the engineered lentivirus and endosomes takes place at the early endosome level, and that the release of the viral core into the cytosol at the completion of the virus-endosome fusion is correlated with the endosome maturation process. This imaging study sheds some light on the infection mechanism of the engineered lentivirus and can be beneficial to the design of more efficient gene delivery vectors.

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