Delivery of genes via receptor-mediated endocytosis is severely limited by the poor exit of endocytosed DNA from the endosome. A large enhancement in delivery efficiency has been obtained by including human adenovirus particles in the delivery system. This enhancement is probably a function of the natural adenovirus entry mechanism, which must include passage through or disruption of the endosomal membrane. In an effort to identify safer virus particles useful in this application, we have tested the chicken adenovirus CELO virus for its ability to augment receptor-mediated gene delivery. We report here that CELO virus possesses pH-dependent, liposome disruption activity similar to that of human adenovirus type 5. Furthermore, the chicken adenovirus can be used to augment receptor-mediated gene delivery to levels comparable to those found for the human adenovirus when it is physically linked to polylysine ligand-condensed DNA particles. The chicken adenovirus has the advantage of being produced inexpensively in embryonated eggs, and the virus is naturally replication defective in mammalian cells, even in the presence of wild-type human adenovirus
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