CNS gene therapy applications of the Semliki Forest virus 1 vector are limited by neurotoxicity

Audrey Graham, Robert Walker, Pauline Baird, Caroline N Hahn, John K Fazakerley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Semliki Forest virus (SFV) 1 vector system is highly efficient at gene transduction in a broad range of host cells, including neurons. To determine the potential of SFV1-based vectors to mediate gene expression in substantia nigra neurons, we inoculated d1EGFP-expressing SFV virus-like particles stereotaxically into the mouse brain. This system selectively and extensively mediated gene expression in dopaminergic neurons of the substantia nigra. Continual reporter gene expression was evident in neuronal cell bodies for up to 3 weeks postinoculation and d1EGFP-positive neuronal processes were apparent for 12 weeks. There was no evidence of an apoptotic response to infection, but with time cell degeneration and an axonopathy, indicative of neuronal loss, were increasingly apparent. This system has potential for experimental studies requiring efficient transient gene transduction of mouse CNS neurons. The current SFV1 vector system is, however, limited in its potential for CNS gene therapy by neurotoxicity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)631-5
Number of pages5
JournalMolecular Therapy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2006


  • Animals
  • Genetic Therapy
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Inflammation
  • Mice
  • Neurons
  • Semliki forest virus
  • Substantia Nigra


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