It is challenging to genetically manipulate fat in adults. We demonstrate that intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection of an engineered adeno-associated virus (AAV) serotype Rec2 leads to high transduction of multiple visceral fat depots at a dose of 1 to 2 orders lower than commonly used doses for systemic gene delivery. To target adipose tissue, we develop a single AAV vector harboring two expression cassettes: one using the CBA promoter to drive transgene expression and one using the liver-specific albumin promoter to drive a microRNA-targeting WPRE sequence that only exists in this AAV vector. This dual-cassette vector achieves highly selective transduction of visceral fat while severely restricting off-target transduction of liver. As proof of efficacy, i.p. administration of an adipose-targeting Rec2 vector harboring the leptin gene corrects leptin deficiency, obesity, and metabolic syndromes of ob/ob mice. This study provides a powerful tool to genetically manipulate fat for basic research and gene therapies of genetic and acquired diseases.
Keywords: AAV; gene transfer; leptin deficiency; liver restricting; metabolic syndromes; obesity; visceral fat.