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Exp Neurol. 1998 Apr;150(2):183-94.

Neuron-specific transduction in the rat septohippocampal or nigrostriatal pathway by recombinant adeno-associated virus vectors.

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Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32610, USA.


Viral vector-mediated gene transfer in brain can provide a means for gene therapy and functional studies. However, robust and persistent transgene expression in specific populations of the adult brain has been difficult to achieve. In an attempt to produce localized and persistent transduction in rat brain, we compared recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) vectors incorporating either the immediate early cytomegalovirus (CMV) promoter or the neuron-specific enolase (NSE) promoter. Transduction in hippocampus resulting from the NSE promoter-containing construct was more efficient and persistent than that resulting from the CMV promoter-containing construct. Most hippocampal cells transduced with the NSE promoter had multipolar neuron morphology. Neurons with glutamatergic morphology were transduced weakly. In order to produce a local supply of neurotrophic factor to cells that degenerate under certain disease and experimental conditions, the NSE promoter was utilized to drive expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in medial septum or substantia nigra. In this construct, the NSE promoter drives dicistronic expression of BDNF and an enhanced version of green fluorescent protein (GFP). We estimated 3000-15,000 GFP-positive cells per injection of rAAV into septum or substantia nigra, a transduction ratio of 5-20 infectious virus particles per transduced cell. This frequency may be sufficient for trophic factor gene therapy as well as for investigating specific protein function in "topical (i.e., localized) transgenic" animals produced by rAAV.

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