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J Virol. 2012 Aug;86(15):7752-9. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00675-12. Epub 2012 May 16.

Single amino acid modification of adeno-associated virus capsid changes transduction and humoral immune profiles.

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Gene Therapy Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.


Adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors have the potential to promote long-term gene expression. Unfortunately, humoral immunity restricts patient treatment and in addition provides an obstacle to the potential option of vector readministration. In this study, we describe a comprehensive characterization of the neutralizing antibody (NAb) response to AAV type 1 (AAV1) through AAV5 both in vitro and in vivo. These results demonstrated that NAbs generated from one AAV type are unable to neutralize the transduction of other types. We extended this observation by demonstrating that a rationally engineered, muscle-tropic AAV2 mutant containing 5 amino acid substitutions from AAV1 displayed a NAb profile different from those of parental AAV2 and AAV1. Here we found that a single insertion of Thr from AAV1 into AAV2 capsid at residue 265 preserved high muscle transduction, while also changing the immune profile. To better understand the role of Thr insertion at position 265, we replaced all 20 amino acids and evaluated both muscle transduction and the NAb response. Of these variants, 8 mutants induced higher muscle transduction than AAV2. Additionally, three classes of capsid NAb immune profile were defined based on the ability to inhibit transduction from AAV2 or mutants. While no relationship was found between transduction, amino acid properties, and NAb titer or its cross-reactivity, these studies map a critical capsid motif involved in all steps of AAV infectivity. Our results suggest that AAV types can be utilized not only as templates to generate mutants with enhanced transduction efficiency but also as substrates for repeat administration.

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