Primary fibroblasts are not efficiently transduced by subgroup C adenovirus (Ad) vectors because they express low levels of the high-affinity Coxsackie virus and adenovirus receptor (CAR). In the present study, we have used primary human dermal fibroblasts as a model to explore strategies by which Ad vectors can be designed to enter cells deficient in CAR. Using an Ad vector expressing the human CAR cDNA (AdCAR) at high multiplicity of infection, primary fibroblasts were converted from being CAR deficient to CAR sufficient. Efficiency of subsequent gene transfer by standard Ad5-based vectors and Ad5-based vectors with alterations in penton and fiber was evaluated. Marked enhancement of binding and transgene expression by standard Ad5 vectors was achieved in CAR-sufficient fibroblasts. Expression by AdΔRGDβgal, an Ad5-based vector lacking the arginine-glycine-aspartate (RGD) α(v) integrin recognition site from its penton base, was achieved in CAR-sufficient, but not CAR-deficient, cells. Fiber-altered Ad5-based vectors, including (a) AdF(pK7)βgal (bearing seven lysines on the end of fiber) (b) AdF(RGD)βgal (bearing a high-affinity RGD sequence on the end of fiber), and (c) AdF9sK βgal (bearing a short fiber and Ad9 knob), demonstrated enhanced gene transfer in CAR-deficient fibroblasts, with no further enhancement in CAR-sufficient fibroblasts. Together, these observations demonstrate that CAR deficiency on Ad targets can be circumvented either by supplying CAR or by modifying the Ad fiber to bind to other cell-surface receptors.
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