Adeno-associated virus-vectored gene therapy for retinal disease.
ABSTRACT Recombinant adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors have become powerful gene delivery tools for the treatment of retinal degeneration in a variety of animal models that mimic corresponding human diseases. AAV vectors possess a number of features that render them ideally suited for retinal gene therapy, including a lack of pathogenicity, minimal immunogenicity, and the ability to transduce postmitotic cells in a stable and efficient manner. In the sheltered environment of the retina, AAV vectors are able to maintain high levels of transgene expression in the retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE), photoreceptors, or ganglion cells for long periods of time after a single treatment. Each cell type can be specifically targeted by choosing the appropriate combination of AAV serotype, promoter, and intraocular injection site. The focus of this review is on examples of AAV-mediated gene therapy in those animal models of inherited retinal degeneration caused by mutations directly affecting the interacting unit formed by photoreceptors and the RPE. In each case discussed, expression of the therapeutic gene resulted in significant recovery of retinal structure and/or visual function. Because of the key role of the vasculature in maintaining a healthy retina, a summary of AAV gene therapy applications in animal models of retinal neovascular diseases is also included.
Article: Gene therapy regenerates protein expression in cone photoreceptors in Rpe65(R91W/R91W) mice.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Cone photoreceptors mediate visual acuity under daylight conditions, so loss of cone-mediated central vision of course dramatically affects the quality of life of patients suffering from retinal degeneration. Therefore, promoting cone survival has become the goal of many ocular therapies and defining the stage of degeneration that still allows cell rescue is of prime importance. Using the Rpe65(R91W/R91W) mouse, which carries a mutation in the Rpe65 gene leading to progressive photoreceptor degeneration in both patients and mice, we defined stages of retinal degeneration that still allow cone rescue. We evaluated the therapeutic window within which cones can be rescued, using a subretinal injection of a lentiviral vector driving expression of RPE65 in the Rpe65(R91W/R91W) mice. Surprisingly, when applied to adult mice (1 month) this treatment not only stalls or slows cone degeneration but, actually, induces cone-specific protein expression that was previously absent. Before the intervention only part of the cones (40% of the number found in wild-type animals) in the Rpe65(R91W/R91W) mice expressed cone transducin (GNAT2); this fraction increased to 64% after treatment. Correct S-opsin localization is also recovered in the transduced region. In consequence these results represent an extended therapeutic window compared to the Rpe65(-/-) mice, implying that patients suffering from missense mutations might also benefit from a prolonged therapeutic window. Moreover, cones are not only rescued during the course of the degeneration, but can actually recover their initial status, meaning that a proportion of altered cones in chromophore deficiency-related disease can be rehabilitated even though they are severely affected.PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(2):e16588. · 4.09 Impact Factor
Article: Virally delivered channelrhodopsin-2 safely and effectively restores visual function in multiple mouse models of blindness.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Previous work established retinal expression of channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2), an algal cation channel gated by light, restored physiological and behavioral visual responses in otherwise blind rd1 mice. However, a viable ChR2-based human therapy must meet several key criteria: (i) ChR2 expression must be targeted, robust, and long-term, (ii) ChR2 must provide long-term and continuous therapeutic efficacy, and (iii) both viral vector delivery and ChR2 expression must be safe. Here, we demonstrate the development of a clinically relevant therapy for late stage retinal degeneration using ChR2. We achieved specific and stable expression of ChR2 in ON bipolar cells using a recombinant adeno-associated viral vector (rAAV) packaged in a tyrosine-mutated capsid. Targeted expression led to ChR2-driven electrophysiological ON responses in postsynaptic retinal ganglion cells and significant improvement in visually guided behavior for multiple models of blindness up to 10 months postinjection. Light levels to elicit visually guided behavioral responses were within the physiological range of cone photoreceptors. Finally, chronic ChR2 expression was nontoxic, with transgene biodistribution limited to the eye. No measurable immune or inflammatory response was observed following intraocular vector administration. Together, these data indicate that virally delivered ChR2 can provide a viable and efficacious clinical therapy for photoreceptor disease-related blindness.Molecular Therapy 04/2011; 19(7):1220-9. · 6.87 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: In normal mice, the lentiviral vector (LV) is very efficient to target the RPE cells, but transduces retinal neurons well only during development. In the present study, the tropism of LV has been investigated in the degenerating retina of mice, knowing that the retina structure changes during degeneration. We postulated that the viral transduction would be increased by the alteration of the outer limiting membrane (OLM). Two different LV pseudotypes were tested using the VSVG and the Mokola envelopes, as well as two animal models of retinal degeneration: light-damaged Balb-C and Rhodopsin knockout (Rho-/-) mice. After light damage, the OLM is altered and no significant increase of the number of transduced photoreceptors can be obtained with a LV-VSVG-Rhop-GFP vector. In the Rho-/- mice, an alteration of the OLM was also observed, but the possibility of transducing photoreceptors was decreased, probably by ongoing gliosis. The use of a ubiquitous promoter allows better photoreceptor transduction, suggesting that photoreceptor-specific promoter activity changes during late stages of photoreceptor degeneration. However, the number of targeted photoreceptors remains low. In contrast, LV pseudotyped with the Mokola envelope allows a wide dispersion of the vector into the retina (corresponding to the injection bleb) with preferential targeting of Müller cells, a situation which does not occur in the wild-type retina. Mokola-pseudotyped lentiviral vectors may serve to engineer these glial cells to deliver secreted therapeutic factors to a diseased area of the retina.PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(8):e23782. · 4.09 Impact Factor