Development of cell-targeting vectors is an important focus for gene therapy. While some ligands can be genetically inserted into virus capsid proteins for cell targeting, for many ligands, this approach can disrupt either ligand function or vector function. To address this problem for adenovirus type 5 vectors, the fiber capsid protein was genetically fused to a biotin acceptor peptide (BAP). Adenovirus particles bearing this BAP were metabolically biotinylated during vector production by the endogenous biotin ligase in 293 cells to produce covalently biotinylated virions. The resulting biotinylated vector could be retargeted to new receptors by conjugation to biotinylated antibodies using tetrameric avidin (K(d) = 10(-15) M). The biotinylated vector could also be purified by biotin-reversible binding on monomeric avidin (K(d) = 10(-7) M). Finally, this vector was used as a ligand screening platform for dendritic cells in which a variety of structurally diverse protein, carbohydrate, and nucleic acid ligands were easily added to the vector using the biotin-avidin interaction. This work demonstrates the utility of metabolically biotinylated viruses for ligand screening, vector targeting, and virus purification applications.
The avidin-biotin system is a fundamental technology in biomedicine for immunolocalisation, imaging, nucleic acid blotting and protein labelling. This technology has recently been adapted for use in gene therapy vector applications to add proteins or cell-targeting ligands to non-viral and viral vectors. Two biotinylation technologies are being used in these applications: chemical biotinylation and metabolic biotinylation. In chemical biotinylation, reactive alkylating agents couple biotin to proteins by random covalent attachment to amino acid side chains. In metabolic biotinylation, proteins are genetically engineered with a biotin acceptor peptide (BAP), such that they are covalently biotinylated by cellular biotin ligases during viral vector production. Both technologies show promise for cell-targeting in vitro and in vivo, and for ligand screening applications. Metabolic biotinylation has the added feature of allowing viruses, vectors and vaccines to be produced from cells already biotinylated, thereby allowing them to purified by affinity chromatography on monomeric avidin columns.
Papillomaviruses are species-specific and epitheliotropic DNA viruses that cause tumors in their natural hosts. Certain infections with genital human papillomavirus (HPV) types are causally related to cervical cancer development. Most papillomaviruses are thought to infect cells via a clathrin-dependent pathway, yet no studies have determined the entry route in permissive host epithelial cells. Employing fluorescently labeled and native virions, we tested the effects of dominant-negative and biochemical inhibitors of cellular endocytosis pathways. Infections of human keratinocytes, a natural host cell type for HPVs, were assessed visually and by infectious entry assays. We found that HPV type 31 (HPV31) entry and initiation of early infection events require both caveolin 1 and dynamin 2 and occur independently of clathrin-mediated endocytosis. Treatment with chlorpromazine and filipin had opposing effects on HPV31 and HPV16 infection. HPV31 entry was remarkably slow, with a half-time of approximately 14 h, whereas the entry half-time of HPV16 was 4 h. Consistent with a caveola-mediated entry pathway for HPV31, the virions associated with detergent-resistant lipid rafts. During a 16-h microscopic tracking of HPV31 and HPV16 virions, no colocalization of the two viral types was observed. These data suggest that HPV31 and HPV16 virions use distinct routes for host epithelial cell entry.
High-risk human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are small nonenveloped DNA viruses with a strict tropism for squamous epithelium. The viruses are causative agents of cervical cancer and some head and neck cancers, but their differentiation-dependent life cycles have made them difficult to study in simple cell culture. Thus, many aspects of early HPV infection remain mysterious. We recently showed the high-risk HPV type 31 (HPV31) enters its natural host cell type via caveola-dependent endocytosis, a distinct mechanism from that of the closely related HPV16 (Smith et al., J. Virol. 81:9922-9931, 2007). Here, we determined the downstream trafficking events after caveolar entry of HPV31 into human keratinocytes. After initial plasma membrane binding, HPV31 associates with caveolin-1 and transiently localizes to the caveosome before trafficking to the early endosome and proceeding through the endosomal pathway. Caveosome-to-endosome transport was found to be Rab5 GTPase dependent. Although HPV31 capsids were observed in the lysosome, Rab7 GTPase was dispensable for HPV31 infection, suggesting that viral genomes escape from the endosomal pathway prior to Rab7-mediated capsid transport. Consistent with this, the acidic pH encountered by HPV31 within the early endosomal pathway induces a conformational change in the capsid resulting in increased DNase susceptibility of the viral genome, which likely aids in uncoating and/or endosomal escape. The entry and trafficking route of HPV31 into human keratinocytes represents a unique viral pathway by which the virions use caveolar entry to eventually access a low-pH site that appears to facilitate endosomal escape of genomes.