Multiple roles for sialylated glycans in determining the cardiopulmonary tropism of adeno-associated virus 4

J Virol. 2013 Dec;87(24):13206-13. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02109-13. Epub 2013 Sep 25.


Adeno-associated virus 4 (AAV4) is one of the most divergent serotypes among known AAV isolates. Mucins or O-linked sialoglycans have been identified as the primary attachment receptors for AAV4 in vitro. However, little is known about the role(s) played by sialic acid interactions in determining AAV4 tissue tropism in vivo. In the current study, we first characterized two loss-of-function mutants obtained by screening a randomly mutated AAV4 capsid library. Both mutants harbored several amino acid residue changes localized to the 3-fold icosahedral symmetry axes on the AAV4 capsid and displayed low transduction efficiency in vitro. This defect was attributed to decreased cell surface binding as well as uptake of mutant virions. These results were further corroborated by low transgene expression and recovery of mutant viral genomes in cardiac and lung tissue following intravenous administration in mice. Pharmacokinetic analysis revealed rapid clearance of AAV4 mutants from the blood circulation in conjunction with low hemagglutination potential ex vivo. These results were recapitulated with mice pretreated intravenously with sialidase, directly confirming the role of sialic acids in determining AAV4 tissue tropism. Taken together, our results support the notion that blood-borne AAV4 particles interact sequentially with O-linked sialoglycans expressed abundantly on erythrocytes followed by cardiopulmonary tissues and subsequently for viral cell entry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Capsid / metabolism
  • Capsid Proteins / genetics
  • Capsid Proteins / metabolism
  • Dependovirus / genetics
  • Dependovirus / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gene Transfer Techniques
  • Genetic Vectors / genetics
  • Genetic Vectors / physiology*
  • Glucans / metabolism*
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Heart / virology*
  • Humans
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Lung / virology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • N-Acetylneuraminic Acid / metabolism
  • Organ Specificity
  • Parvoviridae Infections / metabolism*
  • Parvoviridae Infections / virology
  • Receptors, Virus / metabolism*
  • Viral Tropism*


  • Capsid Proteins
  • Glucans
  • Receptors, Virus
  • N-Acetylneuraminic Acid