Gene therapy rescues cilia defects and restores olfactory function in a mammalian ciliopathy model

Department of Pharmacology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.
Nature medicine (Impact Factor: 28.05). 09/2012; 18(9). DOI: 10.1038/nm.2860
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Cilia are evolutionarily conserved microtubule-based organelles that are crucial for diverse biological functions, including motility, cell signaling and sensory perception. In humans, alterations in the formation and function of cilia manifest clinically as ciliopathies, a growing class of pleiotropic genetic disorders. Despite the substantial progress that has been made in identifying genes that cause ciliopathies, therapies for these disorders are not yet available to patients. Although mice with a hypomorphic mutation in the intraflagellar transport protein IFT88 (Ift88(Tg737Rpw) mice, also known as ORPK mice) have been well studied, the relevance of IFT88 mutations to human pathology is unknown. We show that a mutation in IFT88 causes a hitherto unknown human ciliopathy. In vivo complementation assays in zebrafish and mIMCD3 cells show the pathogenicity of this newly discovered allele. We further show that ORPK mice are functionally anosmic as a result of the loss of cilia on their olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs). Notably, adenoviral-mediated expression of IFT88 in mature, fully differentiated OSNs of ORPK mice is sufficient to restore ciliary structures and rescue olfactory function. These studies are the first to use in vivo therapeutic treatment to reestablish cilia in a mammalian ciliopathy. More broadly, our studies indicate that gene therapy is a viable option for cellular and functional rescue of the complex ciliary organelle in established differentiated cells.

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    ABSTRACT: Cilia dysfunction underlies a class of human diseases with variable penetrance in different organ systems. Across eukaryotes, intraflagellar transport (IFT) facilitates cilia biogenesis and cargo trafficking, but our understanding of mammalian IFT is insufficient. Here we perform live analysis of cilia ultrastructure, composition and cargo transport in native mammalian tissue using olfactory sensory neurons. Proximal and distal axonemes of these neurons show no bias towards IFT kinesin-2 choice, and Kif17 homodimer is dispensable for distal segment IFT. We identify Bardet-Biedl syndrome proteins (BBSome) as bona fide constituents of IFT in olfactory sensory neurons, and show that they exist in 1:1 stoichiometry with IFT particles. Conversely, subpopulations of peripheral membrane proteins, as well as transmembrane olfactory signalling pathway components, are capable of IFT but with significantly less frequency and/or duration. Our results yield a model for IFT and cargo trafficking in native mammalian cilia and may explain the penetrance of specific ciliopathy phenotypes in olfactory neurons.
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    ABSTRACT: Joubert (JBTS) and Meckel-Gruber (MKS) syndromes are recessive neurodevelopmental conditions caused by mutations in proteins that are structural or functional components of the primary cilium. In this review we provide an overview of their clinical diagnosis, management and molecular genetics. Both have variable phenotypes, extreme genetic heterogeneity, and display allelism both with each other and other ciliopathies. Recent advances in genetic technology have significantly improved diagnosis and clinical management of ciliopathy patients, with the delineation of some general genotype-phenotype correlations. We highlight those that are most relevant for clinical practice, including the correlation between TMEM67 mutations and the JBTS variant phenotype of COACH syndrome. The subcellular localization of the known MKS and JBTS proteins is now well-described, and we discuss some of the contemporary ideas about ciliopathy disease pathogenesis. Most JBTS and MKS proteins localize to a discrete ciliary compartment called the transition zone (TZ), and act as structural components of the so-called "ciliary gate" to regulate the ciliary trafficking of cargo proteins or lipids. Cargo proteins include enzymes and transmembrane proteins that mediate intracellular signaling. The disruption of TZ function may contribute to the ciliopathy phenotype by altering the composition of the ciliary membrane or axoneme, with impacts on essential developmental signaling including the Wnt and Shh pathways as well as the regulation of secondary messengers such as inositol-1,4,5-trisphosphate (InsP3) and cAMP. However, challenges remain in the interpretation of the pathogenic potential of genetic variants of unknown significance, and in the elucidation of the molecular mechanisms of phenotypic variability in JBTS and MKS. The further genetic and functional characterization of these conditions is essential to prioritize patients for new targeted therapies.


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Jun 1, 2014