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Although adenovirus vectors offer many advantages, it would be desirable to develop vectors with improved expression and decreased toxicity. Toward this objective, an adenovirus vector system with deletion of both the El and E2a regions was developed. A 5.9-kb fragment of the adenovirus type 5 (Ad5) genome containing the E2a gene and its early and late promoters was transfected into 293 cells. A complementing cell line, designated 293-C2, expressed the E2a mRNA and protein and was found to complement the defect in Ad5 viruses with temperature-sensitive or deletion mutations in E2a. A deletion of 1.3 kb removing codons 40 to 471 of the 529 amino acids of E2a was introduced into plasmids for preparation of viruses and vectors. An Ad5 virus with disruption of the El gene and deletion of E2a grew on 293-C2 cells but not on 293 cells. Vectors with E1 and E2a deleted expressing Escherichia coli beta-galactosidase or human alpha1-antitrypsin were prepared and expressed the reporter genes after intravenous injection into mice. This vector system retains sequences in common between the complementing cell line and the vectors, including 3.4 kb upstream and 1.1 kb downstream of the deletion. These vectors have potential advantages of increased capacity for insertion of transgene sequences, elimination of expression of E2a, and possibly reduction in expression of other viral proteins. Although the titers of the vectors with deleted are about 10- to 30-fold below those of vectors with E2a wild-type regions, the former vectors are suitable for detailed studies with animals to evaluate the effects on host immune responses, on duration of expression, and on safety.