Nucleic acids research

Broadening the versatility of lentiviral vectors as a tool in nucleic acid research via genetic code expansion.

PMID 25765642


With the aim of broadening the versatility of lentiviral vectors as a tool in nucleic acid research, we expanded the genetic code in the propagation of lentiviral vectors for site-specific incorporation of chemical moieties with unique properties. Through systematic exploration of the structure-function relationship of lentiviral VSVg envelope by site-specific mutagenesis and incorporation of residues displaying azide- and diazirine-moieties, the modifiable sites on the vector surface were identified, with most at the PH domain that neither affects the expression of envelope protein nor propagation or infectivity of the progeny virus. Furthermore, via the incorporation of such chemical moieties, a variety of fluorescence probes, ligands, PEG and other functional molecules are conjugated, orthogonally and stoichiometrically, to the lentiviral vector. Using this methodology, a facile platform is established that is useful for tracking virus movement, targeting gene delivery and detecting virus-host interactions. This study may provide a new direction for rational design of lentiviral vectors, with significant impact on both basic research and therapeutic applications.