Tyrosine-mutant AAV8 delivery of human MERTK provides long-term retinal preservation in RCS rats.
ABSTRACT The absence of Mertk in RCS rats results in defective RPE phagocytosis, accumulation of outer segment (OS) debris in the subretinal space, and subsequent death of photoreceptors. Previous research utilizing Mertk gene replacement therapy in RCS rats provided proof of concept for treatment of this form of recessive retinitis pigmentosa (RP); however, the beneficial effects on retinal function were transient. In the present study, we evaluated whether delivery of a MERTK transgene using a tyrosine-mutant AAV8 capsid could lead to more robust and longer-term therapeutic outcomes than previously reported.
An AAV8 Y733F vector expressing a human MERTK cDNA driven by a RPE-selective promoter was administrated subretinally at postnatal day 2. Functional and morphological analyses were performed at 4 months and 8 months post-treatment. Retinal vasculature and Müller cell activation were analyzed by quantifying acellular capillaries and glial fibrillary acidic protein immunostaining, respectively.
Electroretinographic responses from treated eyes were more than one-third of wild-type levels and OS were well preserved in the injection area even at 8 months. Rescue of RPE phagocytosis, prevention of retinal vasculature degeneration, and inhibition of Müller cell activation were demonstrated in the treated eyes for at least 8 months.
This research describes a longer and much more robust functional and morphological rescue than previous studies. We also demonstrate for the first time that an AAV8 mutant capsid serotype vector has a substantial therapeutic potential for RPE-specific gene delivery. These results suggest that tyrosine-mutant AAV8 vectors hold promise for the treatment of individuals with MERTK-associated RP.
- Human Gene Therapy 08/2014; 25(8):671-678. · 3.62 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Phosphodiesterase-6 (PDE6) is the key effector enzyme of the vertebrate phototransduction pathway in rods and cones. Rod PDE6 catalytic core is composed of two distinct subunits, PDE6α and PDE6β, whereas two identical PDE6α' subunits form the cone PDE6 catalytic core. It is not known whether this difference in PDE6 catalytic subunit identity contributes to the functional differences between rods and cones. To address this question, we expressed cone PDE6α' in the photoreceptor cells of the retinal degeneration 10 (rd10) mouse that carries a mutation in rod PDEβ subunit. We show that adeno-associated virus-mediated subretinal delivery of PDE6α' rescues rod electroretinogram responses and preserves retinal structure, indicating that cone PDE6α' can couple effectively to the rod phototransduction pathway. We also show that restoration of light sensitivity in rd10 rods is attributable to assembly of PDE6α' with rod PDE6γ. Single-cell recordings revealed that, surprisingly, rods expressing cone PDE6α' are twofold more sensitive to light than wild-type rods, most likely because of the slower shutoff of their light responses. Unlike in wild-type rods, the response kinetics in PDE6α'-treated rd10 rods accelerated with increasing flash intensity, indicating a possible direct feedback modulation of cone PDE6α' activity. Together, these results demonstrate that cone PDE6α' can functionally substitute for rod PDEαβ in vivo, conferring treated rods with distinct physiological properties.Journal of Neuroscience 07/2013; 33(29):11745-53. · 6.75 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Inherited retinopathies (IR) are common untreatable blinding conditions. Most of them are inherited as monogenic disorders, due to mutations in genes expressed in retinal photoreceptors (PR) and in retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). The retina’s compatibility with gene transfer has made transduction of different retinal cell layers in small and large animal models via viral and non-viral vectors possible. The ongoing identification of novel viruses as well as modifications of existing ones based either on rational design or directed evolution have generated vector variants with improved transduction properties. Dozens of promising proofs of concept have been obtained in IR animal models with both viral and non-viral vectors, and some of them have been relayed to clinical trials. To date, recombinant vectors based on the adeno-associated virus (AAV) represent the most promising tool for retinal gene therapy, given their ability to efficiently deliver therapeutic genes to both PR and RPE and their excellent safety and efficacy profiles in humans. However, AAVs’ limited cargo capacity has prevented application of the viral vector to treatments requiring transfer of genes with a coding sequence larger than 5kb. Vectors with larger capacity, i.e. nanoparticles, adenoviral and lentiviral vectors are being exploited for gene transfer to the retina in animal models and, more recently, in humans. This review focuses on the available platforms for retinal gene therapy to fight inherited blindness, highlights their main strengths and examines the efforts to overcome some of their limitations.Progress in Retinal and Eye Research 11/2014; · 9.90 Impact Factor