Viral vectors-based gene therapy is an attractive alternative to common anti-cancer treatments. In the present studies, AAV serotype 6 vectors were identified to be particularly effective in the transduction of human prostate (PC3), breast (T47D) and liver (Huh7) cancer cells. Next, we developed chimeric AAV vectors with Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD) peptide incorporated into the viral capsid to enable specific targeting of integrin-overexpressing malignant cells. These AAV6-RGD vectors improved transduction efficiency approximately 3-fold compared with wild-type AAV6 vectors by enhancing the viral entry into the cells. We also observed that transduction efficiency significantly improved, up to approximately 5-fold, by the mutagenesis of surface-exposed tyrosine and threonine residues involved in the intracellular trafficking of AAV vectors. Therefore, in our study, the AAV6-Y705-731F+T492V vector was identified as the most efficient. The combination of RGD peptide, tyrosine and threonine mutations on the same AAV6 capsid further increased the transduction efficiency, approximately 8-fold in vitro. In addition, we mutated lysine (K531E) to impair the affinity of AAV6 vectors to heparan sulfate proteoglycan. Finally, we showed a significant increase in both specificity and efficiency of AAV6-RGD-Y705-731F+T492V+K531E vectors in a xenograft animal model in vivo. In summary, the approach described here can lead to the development of AAV vectors with selective tropism to human cancer cells.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank Dr Arun Srivastava for critical reading of this manuscript. This research was supported in part by Children’s Miracle Network (to GA and CL).
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