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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Adeno-associated virus: from defective virus to effective vector

Manuel AFV Gonçalves

Author Affiliations

Gene Therapy Section, Department of Molecular Cell Biology, Leiden University Medical Center, Wassenaarseweg 72, 2333 AL Leiden, the Netherlands

Virology Journal 2005, 2:43  doi:10.1186/1743-422X-2-43

Published: 6 May 2005

Abstract

The initial discovery of adeno-associated virus (AAV) mixed with adenovirus particles was not a fortuitous one but rather an expression of AAV biology. Indeed, as it came to be known, in addition to the unavoidable host cell, AAV typically needs a so-called helper virus such as adenovirus to replicate. Since the AAV life cycle revolves around another unrelated virus it was dubbed a satellite virus. However, the structural simplicity plus the defective and non-pathogenic character of this satellite virus caused recombinant forms to acquire centre-stage prominence in the current constellation of vectors for human gene therapy. In the present review, issues related to the development of recombinant AAV (rAAV) vectors, from the general principle to production methods, tropism modifications and other emerging technologies are discussed. In addition, the accumulating knowledge regarding the mechanisms of rAAV genome transduction and persistence is reviewed. The topics on rAAV vectorology are supplemented with information on the parental virus biology with an emphasis on aspects that directly impact on vector design and performance such as genome replication, genetic structure, and host cell entry.