Characterization of retroviral infectivity and superinfection resistance during retrovirus-mediated transduction of mammalian cells

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Retroviral vectors including lentiviral vectors are commonly used tools to stably express transgenes or RNA molecules in mammalian cells. Their utilities are roughly divided into two categories, stable overexpression of transgenes and RNA molecules, which requires maximal transduction efficiency, or functional selection with retrovirus (RV)-based libraries, which takes advantage of retroviral superinfection resistance. However, the dynamic features of RV-mediated transduction are not well characterized. Here, we engineered two murine stem cell virus-based retroviral vectors expressing dual fluorescence proteins and antibiotic markers, and analyzed virion production efficiency and virion stability, dynamic infectivity and superinfection resistance in different cell types, and strategies to improve transduction efficiency. We found that the highest virion production occurred between 60 and 72 h after transfection. The stability of the collected virion supernatant decreased by > 60% after 3 days in storage. We found that RV infectivity varied drastically in the tested human cancer lines, while low transduction efficiency was partially overcome with increased virus titer, prolonged infection duration and/or repeated infections. Furthermore, we demonstrated that RV receptors PIT1 and PIT2 were lowly expressed in the analyzed cells, and that PIT1 and/or PIT2 overexpression significantly improved transduction efficiency in certain cell lines. Thus, our findings provide resourceful information for the optimal conditions of retroviral-mediated gene delivery.

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