Selection Guide for Recombinant Viruses for Gene Delivery

Use the following table to help choose the right viral vector for your gene expression studies:

  Adenovirus AAV Lentivirus Retrovirus
Gene Expression Transient Transient Transient or Stable Stable
Infect Dividing Cells Yes Yes Yes Yes
Infect Non-Dividing Cells Yes Yes Yes No
Integration into Target Cell Genome No No* Yes Yes
Immune Response in Target Cells High Very Low Low Moderate
Relative Viral Titer XXXX XXX XXX XX
Relative Transduction Efficiency XXXX XXX XXX XX

*Native AAV will integrate, but recombinant AAV rarely does.

In summary:

  • Adenovirus is usually produced in the highest titer and is typically the easiest to penetrate the target cell. It is also the only virus that can be amplified without re-packaging new virus. However, adenovirus only provides transient gene expression, since the gene will not incorporate into the target cell's genome. Also, adenovirus tends to elicit the highest immune response of all four viruses; this can be a problem when targeting very sensitive cells such as primary cells.
  • MMLV-based retrovirus is ideal for generating stable expression of your gene in the target cell, since it easily integrates into the cell genome and stable cells are easily selected. However, retrovirus is usually produced at relatively low titers, and it can be more difficult to get into a target cell.
  • Lentivirus has become a popular choice since it provides some advantages of both adenovirus and retrovirus. Generally higher titers are possible with lentivirus compared to retrovirus, and lentivirus can provide both transient and stable gene expression. It also elicits a lower immune response than adenovirus.
  • AAV has become a popular choice due to its extremely low immune response and the variety of serotypes available. Each AAV serotype has varying infectivity rates in different types of target cells, so you can choose the serotype that is best for your specific cell rather than having to choose a one-size-fits-all approach.

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