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Jianwen Liu, Adrian M. Timmers, Alfred S. Lewin, William W. Hauswirth; Ribozyme Knockdown of the γ-Subunit of Rod cGMP Phosphodiesterase Alters the ERG and Retinal Morphology in Wild-Type Mice. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2005;46(10):3836-3844. doi: 10.1167/iovs.04-1283.
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purpose. To generate an animal model of retinal degeneration by using AAV-mediated ribozyme knockdown of the γ-subunit of the rod cGMP phosphodiesterase (PDEγ) mRNA in the retina of wild-type mice.
methods. Two hammerhead ribozymes, HRz35 and HRz42, were designed to target the PDEγ gene in wild-type C57BL/6 mice. The efficiency and specificity of the ribozyme cleavage was tested in vitro against three different types of target: short synthetic RNA oligomers, longer targets transcribed from clones, and full-length mRNA from total retinal RNA extracts. After in vitro validation, the ribozymes were cloned and packaged in a recombinant adenoassociated virus (rAAV) containing a proximal 472-bp murine rod opsin promoter (MOPS) to drive ribozyme synthesis. Three-week-old wild-type C57BL/6 mice were injected subretinally with the vectors. For treated versus partner control retinas, responses to light were measured by full-field electroretinography (ERG), and retinal tissues were examined by light microscopy. Messenger RNA and protein levels of PDEγ gene were monitored by reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and Western immunoblot assay.
results. The ribozymes had comparable in vitro kinetic properties in multiple turnover kinetic analyses. Ribozyme HRz35 exhibited a K cat of 0.48 minute−1 and a K m of 980 nM, and HRz42 showed a K cat of 0.17 minute−1 and a K m of 971 nM. Both ribozymes cleaved at accessible sites in the RNA, as they digested long transcripts transcribed from clones and full-length mRNA from total retinal RNA extracts in vitro. At increasing intervals after subretinal injection with either AAV ribozyme, a 30% to 90% reduction in a- and b-wave amplitudes was observed compared with those in contralateral control eyes that were not injected. Retinal tissue analysis showed that loss of the photoreceptor cells and PDEγ mRNA and protein paralleled the ERG results.
conclusions. Ribozyme-mediated somatic knockdown of wild-type PDEγ mRNA in vivo can efficiently reduce the target RNA leading to a loss in rod photoreceptors and in rod-mediated ERG amplitudes, thus generating an animal model of retinal degeneration resembling human RP in an essentially normal adult retina. This vector ribozyme technique should be applicable to other genes associated with RP and perhaps also to mRNAs of phototransduction genes not yet associated with RP. Application of this approach may be age and species independent.
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