Structure of AAV-DJ, a retargeted gene therapy vector: Cryo-electron microscopy at 4.5 Å resolution

Thomas F. Lerch, Jason K. O'Donnell, Nancy L. Meyer, Qing Xie, Kenneth A. Taylor, Scott M. Stagg, Michael S. Chapman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


AAV-DJ, a leading candidate vector for liver gene therapy, was created through random homologous recombination followed by directed evolution, selecting for in vivo liver tropism and resistance to in vitro immune neutralization. Here, the 4.5 Å resolution cryo-EM structure is determined for the engineered AAV vector, revealing structural features that illuminate its phenotype. The heparan sulfate receptor-binding site is little changed from AAV-2, and heparin-binding affinity is similar. A loop that is antigenic in other serotypes has a unique conformation in AAV-DJ that would conflict with the binding of an AAV-2 neutralizing monoclonal antibody. This is consistent with increased resistance to neutralization by human polyclonal sera, raising the possibility that changed tropism may be a secondary effect of altered immune interactions. The reconstruction exemplifies analysis of fine structural changes and the potential of cryo-EM, in favorable cases, to characterize mutant or ligand-bound complexes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1310-1320
Number of pages11
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 8 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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