Rational immunosilencing of a promiscuous T-cell epitope in the capsid of an adeno-associated virus

Nat Biomed Eng. 2024 Feb;8(2):193-200. doi: 10.1038/s41551-023-01129-8. Epub 2023 Nov 23.


Owing to the immunogenicity of adeno-associated viruses (AAVs), gene therapies using AAVs face considerable obstacles. Here, by leveraging ex vivo T-cell assays, the prediction of epitope binding to major histocompatibility complex class-II alleles, sequence-conservation analysis in AAV phylogeny and site-directed mutagenesis, we show that the replacement of amino acid residues in a promiscuous and most immunodominant T-cell epitope in the AAV9 capsid with AAV5 sequences abrogates the immune responses of peripheral blood mononuclear cells to the chimaeric vector while preserving its functions, potency, cellular specificity, transduction efficacy and biodistribution. This rational approach to the immunosilencing of capsid epitopes promiscuously binding to T cells may be applied to other AAV vectors and epitope regions.

MeSH terms

  • Capsid Proteins / chemistry
  • Capsid Proteins / genetics
  • Capsid Proteins / metabolism
  • Capsid* / chemistry
  • Capsid* / metabolism
  • Dependovirus* / genetics
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte / analysis
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte / genetics
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte / metabolism
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte
  • Capsid Proteins