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Optimized Protocol for Accurate Titration of Adeno-Associated Virus Vectors

  • Tuisku Suoranta 1
  • Nihay Laham-Karam 1
  • Seppo Ylä-Herttuala 1
  • 1 - A. I. Virtanen Institute for Molecular Sciences - University of Eastern Finland - Kuopio Finland


Adeno-associated virus (AAV) is currently the most popular gene delivery vector for in vivo gene therapy. However, variability in titration methods between different laboratories affects the reproducibility of experiments and evaluation of safety and efficacy in clinical trials. We describe an optimized protocol for AAV titration, including quantitative PCR (qPCR) standard preparation and quantitation and treatment of AAV samples before qPCR and droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) titration. During the protocol development, we observed that quantitation of the qPCR standard was dependent on its conformation and that A260-based quantitation overestimated the plasmid copy numbers, introducing significant error. Linearized, free inverted terminal repeat (free-ITR), and supercoiled standards were compared with enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP), SV40p(A), and AAV2-ITR qPCR assays and we found that using the AAV2-ITR assay together with either linearized or supercoiled standard led to overestimation of the titers, while EGFP and SV40p(A) assays were more accurate with the linearized standard. Finally, we compared extraction of AAV1, AAV2, AAV5, AAV6, AAV8, and AAV9 genomes by heat denaturation, proteinase K treatment, and kit extraction. Kit extraction, which contained proteinase K treatment in denaturing buffer before spin-column purification, significantly increased the titers acquired for all the serotypes in both qPCR and ddPCR. These improvements resulted in an accurate quantitation of the ATCC reference standard and in a robust and reliable protocol for AAV titration.



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