Analyzing the number of common integration sites of viral vectors--new methods and computer programs

PLoS One. 2011;6(10):e24247. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0024247. Epub 2011 Oct 14.


Vectors based on γ-retroviruses or lentiviruses have been shown to stably express therapeutical transgenes and effectively cure different hematological diseases. Molecular follow up of the insertional repertoire of gene corrected cells in patients and preclinical animal models revealed different integration preferences in the host genome including clusters of integrations in small genomic areas (CIS; common integrations sites). In the majority, these CIS were found in or near genes, with the potential to influence the clonal fate of the affected cell. To determine whether the observed degree of clustering is statistically compatible with an assumed standard model of spatial distribution of integrants, we have developed various methods and computer programs for γ-retroviral and lentiviral integration site distribution. In particular, we have devised and implemented mathematical and statistical approaches for comparing two experimental samples with different numbers of integration sites with respect to the propensity to form CIS as well as for the analysis of coincidences of integration sites obtained from different blood compartments. The programs and statistical tools described here are available as workspaces in R code and allow the fast detection of excessive clustering of integration sites from any retrovirally transduced sample and thus contribute to the assessment of potential treatment-related risks in preclinical and clinical retroviral gene therapy studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Computer Simulation
  • Databases, Genetic
  • Genetic Vectors / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Models, Genetic
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional / methods*
  • Retroviridae / genetics*
  • Software*