Vectors derived from adeno-associated virus serotype 2 (AAV-2) represent a most promising tool for human gene transfer because these vectors are neither pathogenic nor toxic to the target cell, and allow long-term gene expression in a large variety of tissues. However, they are rather inefficient at infecting a number of clinically relevant cell types, and transduction by these vectors is likely hampered by neutralizing antibodies that are highly prevalent in the human population. Therefore, an increasing number of researchers are currently turning their attention to the five other serotypes of AAV, to try and develop these as novel vectors for human gene transfer, hoping to overcome the problems associated with AAV-2 vectors. Here I describe and discuss the methodology to produce these alternative AAV vectors in tissue culture. In detail, two strategies are compared that rely on transfection of cells in culture with either two or three plasmids, containing the AAV vector genome and encoding AAV and adenoviral helper functions. Either of these protocols can be used to package a recombinant AAV genome into capsids of its own serotype (generation of "real" serotypes) or to "cross-package" this vector DNA into capsids derived from another AAV serotype ("pseudotyping"). As these approaches are still in their early stages, the existing limitations of current technology are discussed, and possible further improvements proposed.
Copyright 2002 Elsevier Science (USA)