Efficient gene transfer into human hepatocytes by baculovirus vectors


  • C. Hofmann
  • V. Sandig
  • G. Jennings
  • M. Rudolph
  • P.M. Schlag
  • M. Strauss


  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America


  • Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 92 (22): 10099-10103


  • Viral vectors are the most efficient tools for gene delivery, and the search for tissue-specific infecting viruses is important for the development of in vivo gene therapy strategies. The baculovirus Autographa californica nuclear polyhedrosis virus is widely used as a vector for expression of foreign genes in insect cells, and its host specificity is supposed to be restricted to arthropods. Here we demonstrate that recombinant A. californica nuclear polyhedrosis virus is efficiently taken up by human hepatocytes via an endosomal pathway. High-level reporter gene expression from heterologous promoters was observed in human and rabbit hepatocytes in vitro. Mouse hepatocytes and some other epithelial cell types are targeted at a considerably lower rate. The efficiency of gene transfer by baculovirus considerably exceeds that obtained by calcium phosphate or lipid transfection. These properties of baculovirus suggest a use for it as a vector for liver-directed gene transfer but highlight a potential risk in handling certain recombinant baculoviruses.