Targeted modifications in adeno-associated virus serotype 8 capsid improves its hepatic gene transfer efficiency in vivo.Hum Gene Ther Methods 2013; 24(2):104-16HG
Recombinant adeno-associated virus vectors based on serotype 8 (AAV8) have shown significant promise for liver-directed gene therapy. However, to overcome the vector dose dependent immunotoxicity seen with AAV8 vectors, it is important to develop better AAV8 vectors that provide enhanced gene expression at significantly low vector doses. Since it is known that AAV vectors during intracellular trafficking are targeted for destruction in the cytoplasm by the host-cellular kinase/ubiquitination/proteasomal machinery, we modified specific serine/threonine kinase or ubiquitination targets on the AAV8 capsid to augment its transduction efficiency. Point mutations at specific serine (S)/threonine (T)/lysine (K) residues were introduced in the AAV8 capsid at the positions equivalent to that of the effective AAV2 mutants, generated successfully earlier. Extensive structure analysis was carried out subsequently to evaluate the structural equivalence between the two serotypes. scAAV8 vectors with the wild-type (WT) and each one of the S/T→Alanine (A) or K-Arginine (R) mutant capsids were evaluated for their liver transduction efficiency in C57BL/6 mice in vivo. Two of the AAV8-S→A mutants (S279A and S671A), and a K137R mutant vector, demonstrated significantly higher enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) transcript levels (~9- to 46-fold) in the liver compared to animals that received WT-AAV8 vectors alone. The best performing AAV8 mutant (K137R) vector also had significantly reduced ubiquitination of the viral capsid, reduced activation of markers of innate immune response, and a concomitant two-fold reduction in the levels of neutralizing antibody formation in comparison to WT-AAV8 vectors. Vector biodistribution studies revealed that the K137R mutant had a significantly higher and preferential transduction of the liver (106 vs. 7.7 vector copies/mouse diploid genome) when compared to WT-AAV8 vectors. To further study the utility of the K137R-AAV8 mutant in therapeutic gene transfer, we delivered human coagulation factor IX (h.FIX) under the control of liver-specific promoters (LP1 or hAAT) into C57BL/6 mice. The circulating levels of h.FIX:Ag were higher in all the K137R-AAV8 treated groups up to 8 weeks post-hepatic gene transfer. These studies demonstrate the feasibility of the use of this novel AAV8 vectors for potential gene therapy of hemophilia B.