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Adeno-associated virus 2 bound to its cellular receptor AAVR


Adeno-associated virus (AAV) is a leading vector for virus-based gene therapy. The receptor for AAV (AAVR; also named KIAA0319L) was recently identified, and the precise characterization of AAV–AAVR recognition is in immediate demand. Taking advantage of a particle-filtering algorithm, we report here the cryo-electron microscopy structure of the AAV2–AAVR complex at 2.8 Å resolution. This structure reveals that of the five Ig-like polycystic kidney disease (PKD) domains in AAVR, PKD2 binds directly to the spike region of the AAV2 capsid adjacent to the icosahedral three-fold axis. Residues in strands B and E, and the BC loop of AAVR PKD2 interact directly with the AAV2 capsid. The interacting residues in the AAV2 capsid are mainly in AAV-featured variable regions. Mutagenesis of the amino acids at the AAV2–AAVR interface reduces binding activity and viral infectivity. Our findings provide insights into the biology of AAV entry with high-resolution details, providing opportunities for the development of new AAV vectors for gene therapy.

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Fig. 1: The cryo-EM structures.
Fig. 2: The complex structure of AAVR bound to AAV2.
Fig. 3: Conformational changes in the AAV2 capsid following AAVR attachment.
Fig. 4: Mutagenesis study of AAVR for AAV2 binding assays.

Data availability

The obtained cryo-EM density maps and the data of the resolved structures were deposited into the Electron Microscopy Data Bank (EMDB) and Protein Data Bank (PDB) with the following accession numbers: AAV2, EMD-9671 and 6IH9; AAV2–AAVR complex, EMD-9672 and 6IHB. All other data supporting the findings of this study are available from the corresponding authors upon request.


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The authors thank the Computing and Cryo-EM Platforms of Tsinghua University, Branch of the National Center for Protein Sciences (Beijing) for providing facilities. They also thank L. Chen for his help in data collection, D. Yan for his assistance in molecular cloning, W. Huang for her help in cell culture, and Q. Ding for his discussion and comments. This work was supported by the National Program on Key Research Project of China (2017YFC0840300 and 2018YFA0507200) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant numbers 81322023, 31770309, 81372284, 81520108019 and 31370733).

Author information




Z.L., W.D. and Z.R. conceived the project. Z.L. and W.D. designed the experiments. Ra.Z., L.C., M.C., Z.S., M.H., Ro.Z., W.S., X.Z. and Z.Y. performed virus and protein purification, cryo-EM data collection and processing. Ra.Z., L.C., X.L., Y.S., S.L., W.D. and Z.L. analysed the data. Z.L., W.D. and Z.R. wrote the manuscript. All authors discussed the experiments, read and approved the manuscript.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Wei Ding or Zhiyong Lou.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Zhang, R., Cao, L., Cui, M. et al. Adeno-associated virus 2 bound to its cellular receptor AAVR. Nat Microbiol 4, 675–682 (2019).

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