Biochemical and functional analysis of an adenovirus-based ligand complex for gene transfer
Fisher KJ., Wilson JM.
Ligand-mediated approaches to gene transfer offer an alternative to viral vectors for both in vivo and in vitro applications. Although a significant percentage of the plasmid-based DNA complex is lost to lysosomal degradation following receptor-mediated endocytosis, simultaneous infection with adenovirus has been shown to increase the level of transgene expression. In this study we describe an adenovirus-based ligand complex where the plasmid DNA, polycation-ligand conjugate and adenovirus are contained within a single particle structure. At the core of the transfection particle is a replication-defective recombinant adenovirus encoding a cDNA minigene for human placenta alkaline phosphatase that was chemically modified with poly(L-lysine) (Ad-pLys). Electron microscopy of an adenovirus-based ligand complex formed by successively adding plasmid DNA and an asialo-orosomucoid-poly(L-lysine) conjugate to Ad-pLys revealed structures that appeared as intact viral particles coated with a dense biomolecular layer. Adenovirus-based ligand complexes containing either a luciferase or β-galactosidase reporter plasmid were shown to efficiently deliver the plasmid transgene to cells that express the hepatic asialoglycoprotein receptor. Furthermore, the poly(L-lysine) modification greatly reduced the infectivity potential of the virus without causing a concomitant loss of augmented gene transfer. As an alternative to infectious virions, incomplete products of viral assembly were also considered as a source for endosomalytic activity. However, these defective virions were unable to significantly enhance plasmid transgene delivery.