Since its discovery in 1966, adeno-associated virus type 2 (AAV) has been described as a helper-dependent parvovirus. However, in this study we demonstrate that AAV undergoes its complete life cycle, devoid of helper viruses or genotoxic agents, in the organotypic epithelial raft tissue culture system, a model of normal skin: AAV progeny production directly correlated with epithelial differentiation, as nondifferentiating keratinocytes were defective for this activity. Large nuclear virus arrays of particles of approximately 26 nm (parvovirus size) were observed in the granular layers of the raft epithelium by electron microscopy. Additionally, dosage-dependent histologic changes, some of which might be interpreted as cytopathology, were induced in the AAV-infected epithelial tissues. These data suggest a new biological model for AAV; that is, AAV is an epithelial- tropic autonomous parvovirus that can alter normal squamous differentiation. (C) 2000 Academic Press.
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