A stable system for the high-titer production of multiply attenuated lentiviral vectors
Lentiviral vectors open exciting perspectives for the genetic treatment of a wide array of inherited and acquired diseases, owing to their ability to govern the efficient delivery, integration, and long-term expression of transgenes into nondividing cells both in vitro and in vivo. The genomic complexity of HIV, where a whole set of genes encode virulence factors essential for pathogenesis but not required for gene transfer, allowed a major step toward clinical acceptability through the creation of multiply attenuated packaging systems. Until now, however, vector particles could only be produced by transient transfection because no high-output, stable packaging cell line was available that produced the latest generation of HIV-based vectors. Here we describe such a line, based on the doxycycline-repressible expression of HIV-1 Rev/Gag/Pol and of the vesicular stomatitis virus G envelope (VSV G) in 293 human embryonic kidney cells. Upon induction, the LVG clones can produce 1 to 20 HeLa-transducing units per cell per day for about a week, a yield that compares favorably with that of transiently transfected 293T cells. These virions exhibit functional properties similar to those of viruses produced transiently, in particular the ability to transduce nonmitotic targets. This system will facilitate the further development of lentiviral vectors for gene therapy.