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A single short stretch of homology between adenoviral vector and packaging cell line can give rise to cytopathic effect-inducing, helper-dependent E1-positive particles



A single short stretch of homology between adenoviral vector and packaging cell line can give rise to cytopathic effect-inducing, helper-dependent E1-positive particles



Human Gene Therapy 13(8): 909-920



An undesirable byproduct from recombinant adenoviral vectors is the emergence of replication competent adenovirus (RCA) that result from rare homologous recombination events between the viral E1-containing (permissive) mammalian host cell genome and the virus itself, restoring the E1 gene to the viral genome. To reduce or eliminate the problem of RCA, we evaluated production of a first generation Ad5 vector (Ad5FGF4) in the cell line PER.C6. This E1-transformed human cell line contains only Ad5 nucleotides 459-3510, which precludes double crossover-type homologous recombination because the Ad5FGF-4 only contains 5' Ad5 sequence up to nucleotide 453. The Ad5FGF4 vector does, however, retain 177 nucleotides of the 3' end of the E1B-55K gene that are also present in PER.C6. With only this single region of homology between vector and cell line, we were surprised to detect virus-specific cytopathic effects (CPE) in our cell-based assay for RCA. This CPE-inducing agent was amplified in nonpermissive A549 cells but also supported amplification of the parental Ad5FGF-4. Because we were unable to isolate the CPE-inducing agent in pure form we first identified it as atypical RCA. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and Southern blot experiments identified viral DNA segments in which recombination had occurred between the 177 nucleotides of E1B present in both Ad5FGF-4 and PER.C6. The atypical RCA genomes contain a copy of the original (PGK promoter-E1 gene carrying) plasmid used in the construction of the PER.C6 cell line and they retained the parental FGF-4 transgene. However, significant deletions occurred within the recombined genomes in compensation for the large insertion from PER.C6 sequences and resulted in the loss of essential viral genes. This deletion renders these recombinant viruses replication defective, requiring helper functions from remaining parental Ad5FGF-4 for amplification. These atypical RCA entities may be more properly designated as helper-dependent E1-positive particles (HDEPs). This finding shows the importance of avoiding the use of "nonmatched" vectors where any overlap exists between the recombinant vector and E1 sequences in the packaging cell line. The cloning of the FGF-4 transgene into an adenoviral vector specifically "matched" for PER.C6 (lacking the 177 nucleotide region of homology) has allowed extensive virus propagation (Ad5.1FGF-4) with no CPE- or HDEP-like events yet detected.

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Accession: 010099286

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PMID: 12031124

DOI: 10.1089/10430340252939023


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