Characterization of Viral Genome Encapsidated in Adeno-associated Recombinant Vectors Produced in Yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Alvaro Galli, Ilenia Iaia, Maria Serena Milella, Filippo Cipriani, Veronica Della Latta, Mauro Giacca, Lorena Zentilin, Tiziana Cervelli*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Adeno-associated virus (AAV) is a small, non-enveloped virus used as vector in gene therapy, mainly produced in human cells and in baculovirus systems. Intense studies on these platforms led to the production of vectors with titers between 103 and 105 viral genomes (vg) per cells. In spite of this, vector yields need to be improved to satisfy the high product demands of clinical trials and future commercialization. Our studies and those of other groups have explored the possibility to exploit the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae to produce rAAV. We previously demonstrated that yeast supports AAV genome replication and capsid assembly. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the quality of the encapsidated AAV DNA. Here, we report the construction of a yeast strain expressing Rep68/40 from an integrated copy of the Rep gene under the control of the yeast constitutive ADH promoter and Capsid proteins from the Cap gene under the control of an inducible GAL promoter. Our results indicate that a portion of AAV particles generated by this system contains encapsidated AAV DNA. However, the majority of encapsidated DNA consists of fragmented regions of the transgene cassette, with ITRs being the most represented sequences. Altogether, these data indicate that, in yeast, encapsidation occurs with low efficiency and that rAAVs resemble pseudo-vectors that are present in clinical-grade rAAV preparations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-165
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Biotechnology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Adeno-associated virus
  • Encapsidation
  • Gene therapy
  • rAAV
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae
  • Viral genome

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