Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus glycoprotein pseudotyping confers neurotropism to lentiviral vectors

Gene Ther. 2013 Jul;20(7):723-32. doi: 10.1038/gt.2012.85. Epub 2012 Nov 22.


We have produced high-titre HIV-1 green fluorescent protein-expressing lentiviral (LV) vectors pseudotyped with strain 3908 Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus glycoprotein (VEEV-G) and used them to study transduction of: (1) rat embryonic motor neuron (MN) and striatal neuron primary cultures, (2) differentiated MN cell line NSC-34 and (3) adult rat striatum. In primary neuronal cultures, transduction with VEEV-G-pseudotyped LV was more efficient and more neuronal than with vesicular stomatitis virus glycoprotein (VSV-G)-pseudotyped LV. In NSC-34 cells clear retrograde transport of VEEV-G vector particles was observed. In the striatum at the injection site, transduction with the VEEV-G vectors driven by cytomegalovirus or phosphoglycerate kinase promoters exhibited a distinct neuronal tropism with no microglial and only a minor astroglial component, superior to that obtained with VSV-G-pseudotyped LV, irrespective of the promoter used. Neuronal transduction efficiency increased over time. Distal to the injection site transduction of mitral cells in the olfactory bulb, thalamic neurons and dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta was detected. This, together with observations of retrograde axonal trafficking in vitro indicates that these vectors also possess low level of retrograde neuronal transduction capability in vivo. In this study, we demonstrate both strong neurotropism as well as sustainability of expression and minimal host immune response in vivo, making the VEEV-G-pseudotyped LV vectors potentially useful for gene therapy of neurodegenerative diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Corpus Striatum / cytology
  • Corpus Striatum / physiology
  • Encephalitis Virus, Venezuelan Equine / genetics*
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Glycoproteins / genetics*
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • HIV-1 / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Lentivirus / genetics
  • Motor Neurons / cytology*
  • Motor Neurons / physiology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / genetics
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / therapy*
  • Rats
  • Transduction, Genetic


  • Glycoproteins
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins