Gene vehicles derived from lentiviruses have become highly esteemed tools for gene transfer and genomic insertion in a wealth of cell types both in vivo and ex vivo. However, accumulating evidence of preferred insertion into actively transcribed genes, driven by biological properties of the parental human immunodeficiency virus type 1, has questioned the safety of this vector technology. As a consequence, integrase-defective lentiviral vectors [IDLVs], carrying an inactive integrase protein, have been developed and used with success for persistent in vivo gene transfer to quiescent or slowly dividing cells. We and others have shown that episomal DNA delivered by IDLVs may serve as a substrate for heterologous integration machineries, including recombinases and transposases, and homologous recombination triggered by nuclease-induced DNA damage. New vector systems that combine the best of lentiviral gene delivery and nonviral integration systems are under development. The first prototypes of such hybrid lentiviral vectors facilitate efficient gene transfer and show profiles of insertion that are not dictated by the biological constraints of the normal integration pathway and are, therefore, significantly different from the profile of conventional lentiviral vectors. The stage is set for further exploration of these vectors. In this review, we summarize the background and short history of hybrid IDLV-based vector systems and discuss their applicability in gene therapy and treatment of genetic disease.
Keywords: DNA transposons, gene insertion, hybrid vectors, IDLV, integration profile, lentiviruses, recombinases, transposases, lentiviral vectors, leukodystrophies
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