GluA4-Targeted AAV Vectors Deliver Genes Selectively to Interneurons while Relying on the AAV Receptor for Entry

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Selective gene delivery into subtypes of interneurons remains an important challenge in vector development. Adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector particles are especially promising for intracerebral injections. For cell entry, AAV2 particles are supposed to attach to heparan-sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs) followed by endocytosis via the AAV receptor (AAVR). Here, we assessed engineered AAV particles deficient in HSPG attachment but competent in recognizing the glutamate receptor 4 (GluA4, also known as GluRD or GRIA4) through a displayed GluA4-specific DARPin (designed ankyrin repeat protein). When injected into the mouse brain, histological evaluation revealed that in various regions, more than 90% of the transduced cells were interneurons, mainly of the parvalbumin-positive subtype. Although part of the selectivity was mediated by the DARPin, the chosen spleen focus-forming virus (SFFV) promoter had contributed as well. Further analysis revealed that the DARPin mediated selective attachment to GluA4-positive cells, whereas gene delivery required expression of AAVR. Our data suggest that cell selectivity of AAV particles can be modified rationally and efficiently through DARPins, but expression of the AAV entry receptor remains essential.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMolecular Therapy - Methods & Clinical Development
Pages (from-to)252-260
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Research areas

  • AAV, AAVR, GluA4, interneuron, parvalbumin, PV, targeting

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