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Hum Gene Ther. 2011 Jan;22(1):93-100. doi: 10.1089/hum.2010.068. Epub 2010 Dec 12.

Creating higher titer lentivirus with caffeine.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX 75390-9148, USA.


The use of lentiviral vectors extends from the laboratory, where they are used for basic studies in virology and as gene transfer vectors gene delivery, to the clinic, where clinical trials using these vectors for gene therapy are currently underway. Lentiviral vectors are useful for gene transfer because they have a large cloning capacity and a broad tropism. Although procedures for lentiviral vector production have been standardized, simple methods to create higher titer virus during production would have extensive and important applications for both research and clinical use. Here we present a simple and inexpensive method to increase the titer by 3- to 8-fold for both integration-competent lentivirus and integration-deficient lentivirus. This is achieved during standard lentiviral production by the addition of caffeine to a final concentration of 2-4 mM. We find that sodium butyrate, a histone deacetylase inhibitor shown previously to increase viral titer, works only ∼50% as well as caffeine. We also show that the DNA-PKcs (DNA-dependent protein kinase catalytic subunit) inhibitor NU7026 can also increase viral titer, but that the combination of caffeine and NU7026 is not more effective than caffeine alone. We show that the time course of caffeine treatment is important in achieving a higher titer virus, and is most effective when caffeine is present from 17 to 41 hr posttransfection. Last, although caffeine increases lentiviral vector titer, it has the opposite effect on the titer of adeno-associated virus type 2 vector. Together, these results provide a novel, simple, and inexpensive way to significantly increase the titer of lentiviral vectors.

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