Prospects for gene therapy using HIV-based vectors

Somat Cell Mol Genet. 2001 Nov;26(1-6):159-74. doi: 10.1023/a:1021034931852.


Recombinant vectors derived from murine leukemia virus (MLV) have been widely used to introduce genes in human gene therapy clinical trials and have shown the potential for medical applications and the promise of significantly improving medical therapies. Yet, the demonstrated limitations of these vectors support the need for continued development of improved vectors. The intrinsic properties associated with the MLV genome and its life cycle do not favor the successful application of this vector system in certain human gene transfer applications. Since MLV integrates randomly into the host genome, transgene expression is frequently affected by the flanking host chromatin. MLV insertions can often result in silencing or position effect variation of gene expression either immediately after insertion or following cell expansion in culture or in vivo. Migration of the MLV pre-integration complex from the cytoplasm into the nucleus of infected cells requires mitosis for nuclear membrane breakdown. Since a majority of human cells exist in a quiescent state in vivo, it is unlikely that direct in vivo gene delivery into target tissues can be achieved with the MLV vector system. Finally, insertion of tissue-specific cis-regulatory sequences to direct transgene expression frequently results in either the rearrangement of the vector sequence or disruption of the cis-regulatory sequence functions. The long terminal repeat (LTR) of MLV, which contains a ubiquitously active enhancer/promoter element, may partially account for this problem. Together, these problems pose a major obstacle for the use of MLV vectors in the treatment of human diseases. This Chapter discusses some of the potential targets to which HIV vectors might be applied in clinical settings and some of the issues surrounding use of HIV vectors in gene transfer clinical trials.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gene Transfer Techniques
  • Genetic Therapy / methods*
  • Genetic Therapy / standards
  • Genetic Vectors / genetics*
  • HIV / genetics*
  • HIV-1 / genetics
  • Humans
  • Safety