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Lentiviral Delivery of Proteins for Genome Engineering

[ Vol. 16 , Issue. 3 ]


Yujia Cai and Jacob Giehm Mikkelsen   Pages 194 - 206 ( 13 )


Viruses have evolved to traverse cellular barriers and travel to the nucleus by mechanisms that involve active transport through the cytoplasm and viral quirks to resist cellular restriction factors and innate immune responses. Virus-derived vector systems exploit the capacity of viruses to ferry genetic information into cells, and now - more than three decades after the discovery of HIV - lentiviral vectors based on HIV-1 have become instrumental in biomedical research and gene therapies that require genomic insertion of transgenes. By now, the efficacy of lentiviral gene delivery to stem cells, cells of the immune system including T cells, hepatic cells, and many other therapeutically relevant cell types is well established. Along with nucleic acids, HIV-1 virions carry the enzymatic tools that are essential for early steps of infection. Such capacity to package enzymes, even proteins of nonviral origin, has unveiled new ways of exploiting cellular intrusion of HIV-1. Based on early findings demonstrating the packaging of heterologous proteins into virus particles as part of the Gag and GagPol polypeptides, we have established lentiviral protein transduction for delivery of DNA transposases and designer nucleases. This strategy for delivering genome-engineering proteins facilitates high enzymatic activity within a short time frame and may potentially improve the safety of genome editing. Exploiting the full potential of lentiviral vectors, incorporation of foreign protein can be combined with the delivery of DNA transposons or a donor sequence for homology-directed repair in so-called ‘all-in-one’ lentiviral vectors. Here, we briefly describe intracellular restrictions that may affect lentiviral gene and protein delivery and review the current status of lentiviral particles as carriers of tool kits for genome engineering.


Protein transduction, zinc-finger nucleases, DNA transposase, gene therapy, lentiviral vector.


Department of Biomedicine, Aarhus University, Wilh. Meyers Allé 4, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark.

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