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A compact dual promoter adeno-associated viral vector for efficient delivery of two genes to dorsal root ganglion neurons

Research group Verhaagen
Publication year 2014
Published in Gene Therapy
Authors N.D. Fagoe, R. Eggers, J. Verhaagen, M.R.J. Mason

Adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors based on serotype 5 are an efficient means to target dorsal root ganglia (DRG) to study gene function in the primary sensory neurons of the peripheral nervous system. In this study, we have developed a compact AAV dual promoter vector composed of the cytomegalovirus (CMV) and chicken beta-actin (CAG) promoters in a back-to-back configuration with a shared enhancer, and show efficient expression of two proteins simultaneously in DRG neurons. We demonstrate how this is useful for experiments on axonal regeneration, by co-expressing a gene of interest and an axonal marker. Using a farnesylated form of eGFP, which is actively transported along axons, we show superior long-distance labelling of axons of DRG neurons compared with normal eGFP. Additionally, we have efficiently transduced lumbar DRG neurons by injecting the AAV dual promoter vector into the dorsal intrathecal space, which is a less invasive delivery method. In summary, we have developed an AAV dual promoter vector designed for simultaneous expression of a gene of interest and a fluorescent protein to label long-distance axonal projections, which allows specific quantification of axons from transduced neurons after injury.

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