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  • asokanlab

Capsid-mediated control of adeno-associated viral transcription determines host range

Adeno-associated virus (AAV) is a member of the genus Dependoparvovirus, which infects a wide range of vertebrate species. Here, we observe that, unlike most primate AAV isolates, avian AAV is transcriptionally silenced in human cells. By swapping the VP1 N terminus from primate AAVs (e.g., AAV8) onto non-mammalian isolates (e.g., avian AAV), we identify a minimal component of the AAV capsid that controls viral transcription and unlocks robust transduction in both human cells and mouse tissue. This effect is accompanied by increased AAV genome chromatin accessibility and altered histone methylation. Proximity ligation analysis reveals that host factors are selectively recruited by the VP1 N terminus of AAV8 but not avian AAV. Notably, these include AAV essential factors implicated in the nuclear factor κB pathway, chromatin condensation, and histone methylation. We postulate that the AAV capsid has evolved mechanisms to recruit host factors to its genome, allowing transcriptional activation in a species-specific manner.

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