Foamy viruses (FVs), or spumaviruses, are integrating retroviruses that have been developed as vectors. Here we generated nonintegrating foamy virus (NIFV) vectors by introducing point mutations into the highly conserved DD35E catalytic core motif of the foamy virus integrase sequence. NIFV vectors produced high-titer stocks, transduced dividing cells, and did not integrate. Cells infected with NIFV vectors contained episomal vector genomes that consisted of linear, 1-long-terminal-repeat (1-LTR), and 2-LTR circular DNAs. These episomes expressed transgenes, were stable, and became progressively diluted in the dividing cell population. 1-LTR circles but not 2-LTR circles were found in all vector stocks prior to infection. Residual integration of NIFV vectors occurred at a frequency 4 logs lower than that of integrase-proficient FV vectors. Cre recombinase expressed from a NIFV vector mediated excision of both an integrated, floxed FV vector and a gene-targeted neo expression cassette, demonstrating the utility of these episomal vectors. The broad host range and large packaging capacity of NIFV vectors should make them useful for a variety of applications requiring transient gene expression.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science