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J Virol. 1995 Oct;69(10):5951-8.

Expression of alpha v beta 5 integrin is necessary for efficient adenovirus-mediated gene transfer in the human airway.

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  • 1Institute for Human Gene Therapy, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.


Recombinant adenoviruses are being evaluated for gene therapy of cystic fibrosis lung disease with the goal of reconstituting the expression of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator in pulmonary epithelia by direct administration of the virus into the airway. The therapeutic potential of recombinant adenoviruses is limited in part by the relative inefficiency by which gene transfer occurs. This study uses a human bronchial xenograft model to study adenovirus infection in the human airway in an attempt to define the molecular events that limit gene transfer. Our studies of the human airway confirm previous observations of cell lines that have indicated a two-step process for adenovirus entry, which begins with the binding of the virus to the cell through the fiber protein and continues with internalization via interactions among cellular integrins and an RGD motif (Arg-Gly-Asp) in the penton base. Furthermore, the level of maturity of the epithelia in xenografts has a major impact on gene transfer. Undifferentiated epithelia express high levels of alpha v beta 5 integrins and are easily infected with recombinant adenoviruses; gene transfer is completely inhibited with excess fiber and partially inhibited with RGD peptide and alpha v beta 5 integrin antibody. Pseudostratified epithelia do not express alpha v beta 5 integrin in differentiated columnar cells and are relatively resistant to adenovirus-mediated gene transfer; what little gene transfer occurs is inhibited by fiber but not by RGD peptide or alpha v beta 5 integrin antibody. These studies suggest that the expression of integrins in human airway epithelia limits the efficiency of gene transfer with recombinant adenoviruses. However, low-level gene transfer can occur in fully mature epithelia through alpha v beta 5 integrin-independent pathways.

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