Optimization of AAV vectors to target persistent viral reservoirs

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Gene delivery of antiviral therapeutics to anatomical sites where viruses accumulate and persist is a promising approach for the next generation of antiviral therapies. Recombinant adeno-associated viruses (AAV) are one of the leading vectors for gene therapy applications that deliver gene-editing enzymes, antibodies, and RNA interference molecules to eliminate viral reservoirs that fuel persistent infections. As long-lived viral DNA within specific cellular reservoirs is responsible for persistent hepatitis B virus, Herpes simplex virus, and human immunodeficiency virus infections, the discovery of AAV vectors with strong tropism for hepatocytes, sensory neurons and T cells, respectively, is of particular interest. Identification of natural isolates from various tissues in humans and non-human primates has generated an extensive catalog of AAV vectors with diverse tropisms and transduction efficiencies, which has been further expanded through molecular genetic approaches. The AAV capsid protein, which forms the virions' outer shell, is the primary determinant of tissue tropism, transduction efficiency, and immunogenicity. Thus, over the past few decades, extensive efforts to optimize AAV vectors for gene therapy applications have focused on capsid engineering with approaches such as directed evolution and rational design. These approaches are being used to identify variants with improved transduction efficiencies, alternate tropisms, reduced sequestration in non-target organs, and reduced immunogenicity, and have produced AAV capsids that are currently under evaluation in pre-clinical and clinical trials. This review will summarize the most recent strategies to identify AAV vectors with enhanced tropism and transduction in cell types that harbor viral reservoirs.




Colón-Thillet, R., Jerome, K. R., & Stone, D. (2021, April 23). Optimization of AAV vectors to target persistent viral reservoirs. Virology Journal. NLM (Medline). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12985-021-01555-7

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