Optimization of design and production strategies for novel adeno-associated viral display peptide libraries
Libraries displaying random peptides on the surface of adeno-associated virus (AAV) are powerful tools for the generation of target-specific gene therapy vectors. However, for unknown reasons the success rate of AAV library screenings is variable and the influence of the production procedure has not been thoroughly evaluated. During library screenings, the capsid variants with the most favorable tropism are enriched over several selection rounds on a target of choice and identified by subsequent sequencing of the encapsidated viral genomes encoding the library capsids with targeting peptide insertions. Thus, a high capsid-genome correlation is crucial to obtain the correct information about the selected capsid variants. Producing AAV libraries by a two-step protocol with pseudotyped library transfer shuttles has been proposed as one way to ensure such a correlation. Here we show that AAV2 libraries produced by such a protocol via transfer shuttles display an unexpected additional bias in the amino-acid composition which confers increased heparin affinity and thus similarity to wildtype AAV2 tropism. This bias may fundamentally impair the intended use of AAV libraries, discouraging the use of transfer shuttles for the production of AAV libraries in the future.