Herpesviruses possess a number of characteristics which make them promising gene delivery vectors. These include their capacity to package large amounts of heterologous DNA and an ability to establish persistent, lifelong infections, where the viral genome remains as a circular non-integrated episome. Herpesvirus saimiri (HVS) is the prototype gamma-2 herpesvirus and is currently being developed as a potential gene delivery vector. In addition to the above properties, HVS-based vectors have the ability to infect a wide range of human cell lines and primary cultures with high efficiencies. Moreover, upon infection the viral genome persists as high copy number, circular, non-integrated episomes which segregate to progeny cells upon division. This allows the HVS-based vector to stably transduce a dividing cell population and provide sustained heterologous gene expression. As such, it offers the characteristics of an artificial chromosome combined with a highly efficient delivery system. This review aims to describe the assessment of HVS-based vectors in both in vitro and in vivo studies, highlighting new developments and possible applications for the treatment of genetic diseases.
Keywords: Alpha-Herpes Virus Vectors, EBV-based vectors, Tumour xenografts, transgene, latency-associated nuclear antigen (LANA)
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