Integration-deficient lentiviral vectors: a slow coming of age

Mol Ther. 2009 Aug;17(8):1316-32. doi: 10.1038/mt.2009.122. Epub 2009 Jun 2.


Lentiviral vectors are very efficient at transducing dividing and quiescent cells, which makes them highly useful tools for genetic analysis and gene therapy. Traditionally this efficiency was considered dependent on provirus integration in the host cell genome; however, recent results have challenged this view. So called integration-deficient lentiviral vectors (IDLVs) can be produced through the use of integrase mutations that specifically prevent proviral integration, resulting in the generation of increased levels of circular vector episomes in transduced cells. These lentiviral episomes lack replication signals and are gradually lost by dilution in dividing cells, but are stable in quiescent cells. Compared to integrating lentivectors, IDLVs have a greatly reduced risk of causing insertional mutagenesis and a lower risk of generating replication-competent recombinants (RCRs). IDLVs can mediate transient gene expression in proliferating cells, stable expression in nondividing cells in vitro and in vivo, specific immune responses, RNA interference, homologous recombination (gene repair, knock-in, and knock-out), site-specific recombination, and transposition. IDLVs can be converted into replicating episomes, suggesting that if a clinically applicable system can be developed they would also become highly appropriate for stable transduction of proliferating tissues in therapeutic applications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Genetic Vectors / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Integrases / genetics
  • Lentivirus / genetics*
  • Mutation
  • Transduction, Genetic / methods*


  • Integrases