What types of viruses are commonly used as vectors?

Viruses are highly diverse, and are classified based on genome nucleic acid type, strandedness, sense, and method of replication. Not all virus classes are well suited for use as viral vectors, but several types have gained widespread usage in biological research. Retroviruses and lentiviruses provide high-efficiency stable transfection potential, but can induce mutagenesis and require greater safety considerations.1-3 Herpes simplex viruses (HSVs) are popular for neurological studies because of their innate predilection for neuronal infection.4 Finally, adenoviruses and adeno-associated viruses (AAVs) combine high infectiousness with low safety risk, but are highly immunogenic – limiting transduction efficacy.5,6

1. D.S. Anson, “The use of retroviral vectors for gene therapy-what are the risks? A review of retroviral pathogenesis and its relevance to retroviral vector-mediated gene delivery,” Genet Vaccines Ther 2: 9, 2004.
2. J.M. Coffin, et al., “Retroviruses,” Principles of Retroviral Vector Design. Cold Spring Harbor (NY): Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press; 1997.
3. J.B. Connolly, “Lentiviruses in gene therapy clinical research,” Gene Ther 9(24): 1730-1734, 2002.
4. R.H. Lachmann, “Herpes simplex virus-based vectors,” Int J Exp Pathol 85(4): 177-190, 2004.
5. W.S.M. Wold and K. Toth, “Adenovirus Vectors for Gene Therapy, Vaccination and Cancer Gene Therapy,” Curr Gene Ther 13(6): 421-433, 2013.
6. S. Daya and K.I. Berns, “Gene Therapy Using Adeno-Associated Virus Vectors,” Clin Microbiol Rev 21(4): 583-593, 2008.