Herpesvirus saimiri based gene delivery vectors maintain heterologous expression throughout mouse embryonic stem cell differentiation in vitro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • A J Stevenson
  • D Clarke
  • A Whitehouse
  • D M Meredith
  • S E Kinsey

Colleges, School and Institutes


In order to achieve a high efficiency of gene delivery into rare cell types like stem cells the use of viral vectors is presently without alternative. An ideal stem cell gene therapy vector would be able to infect primitive progenitor cells and sustain or activate gene expression in differentiated progeny. However, many viral vectors are inactivated when introduced in developing systems where cell differentiation occurs. To this end, we have developed a mouse in vitro model for testing herpesvirus saimiri (HVS)-based gene therapy vectors. We demonstrate here for the first time that HVS is able to infect totipotent mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells with high efficiency. We have transduced ES cells with a recombinant virus carrying the enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) gene and the neomycin resistance gene (NeoR) driven by a CMV promoter and the SV40 promoter, respectively. ES cells maintain the viral episomal genome and can be terminally differentiated into mature haematopoietic cells. Moreover, heterologous gene expression is maintained throughout in vitro differentiation. Besides its obvious use in gene therapy, this unique expression system has wide ranging applications in studies aimed at understanding gene function and expression in cell differentiation and development.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)464-471
JournalGene Therapy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2000


  • gene transfer, herpesvirus saimiri, embryonic stem cells, in vitro differentiation