Developing an Anion Exchange Chromatography Assay for Determining Empty and Full Capsid Contents in AAV6.2

Wang Chunlei, Mulagapati Sri Hari Raju, Chen Zhongying, Du Jing, Zhao Xiaohui, Xi Guoling, Chen Liyan, Linke Thomas, Gao Cuihua, Schmelzer Albert, Liu Dengfeng

Molecular Therapy  Methods & Clinical Development, Volume 15, September 26 2019, Pages 257-263

Abstract

Adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors are clinically proven gene delivery vehicles that are attracting an increasing amount of attention. Non-genome-containing empty AAV capsids are by-products during AAV production that have been reported to potentially impact AAV product safety and efficacy. Therefore, the presence and amount of empty AAV capsids need to be characterized during process development. Multiple methods have been reported to characterize empty AAV capsid levels, including transmission electron microscopy (TEM), analytical ultracentrifugation (AUC), charge detection mass spectrometry (CDMS), UV spectrophotometry, and measuring capsid and genome copies by ELISA and qPCR. However, these methods may lack adequate accuracy and precision or be challenging to transfer to a quality control (QC) lab due to the difficulty of implementation. In this study, we used AAV serotype 6.2 (AAV6.2) as an example to show the development of a QC-friendly anion exchange chromatography (AEX) assay for the determination of empty and full capsid percentages. The reported assay requires several microliters of material with a minimum titer of 5 × 1011 vg/mL, and it can detect the presence of as low as 2.9% empty capsids in AAV6.2 samples. Additionally, the method is easy to deploy, can be automated, and has been successfully implemented to support testing of various in-process and release samples.

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Keywords: AAV, AAV6.2, Chromatography, Anion exchange chromatography (AEC), Empty capsids, AUC, High-throughput