Amplicon-6 and Tamplicon-7 are novel non-integrating vectors derived from the lymphotropic Human Herpesviruses 6 and 7 (HHV-6 and HHV-7). In the presence of helper viruses the amplicon vectors replicate to yield packaged defective genomes of size approximately 150 kb and consisting of multiple repeat units containing (i) the oriLyt DNA replication origin (ii) the pac-1 and pac-2 cleavage and packaging signals (iii) bacterial plasmid DNA sequences (iv) the chosen transgene(s). Employing CD46 as a receptor HHV-6 gains entry into varied cells, including lymphocytes and dendritic cells, whereas HHV-7 employs the CD4 receptor to target CD4+ cells. The amplicon-based vectors have facilitated the characterization of viral DNA replication and packaging. Following electroporation and helper virus superinfection, the vectors can be transmitted as cell associated and as cell-free virions secreted into the medium. Analyses by flow cytometry have shown good cell spread and efficient gene expression. Exemplary transgenes have included: (i) The Green Fluorescence Protein (GFP) (ii) Genes for potential use in anti-viral vaccination e.g., the HSV-1 glycoprotein D (gD) with and without the trans-membrane region, expressed intracellularly, at the cell membrane or as secreted proteins. (iii) Tumor cell antigens. (iv) Apoptotic genes for development of oncolytic vectors. Due to their cell tropism, their structure as concatemeric genomes, with less than 1.5 kb of viral DNA sequences, the HHV-6 and 7 amplicons have the potential to become unique vectors for immunization and lymphotropic gene therapy.
Keywords: Replication origin, packaging, concatemers, defective virus, helper, pac signal, vaccination, gene therapy
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