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Wenyi Wu, Yajian Duan, Gaoen Ma, Guohong Zhou, Cindy Park-Windhol, Patricia A. D'Amore, Hetian Lei; AAV-CRISPR/Cas9–Mediated Depletion of VEGFR2 Blocks Angiogenesis In Vitro. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2017;58(14):6082-6090. doi: 10.1167/iovs.17-21902.
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Pathologic angiogenesis is a component of many diseases, including neovascular age-related macular degeneration, proliferation diabetic retinopathy, as well as tumor growth and metastasis. The purpose of this project was to examine whether the system of adeno-associated viral (AAV)–mediated CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)–associated endonuclease (Cas)9 can be used to deplete expression of VEGF receptor 2 (VEGFR2) in human vascular endothelial cells in vitro and thus suppress its downstream signaling events.
The dual AAV system of CRISPR/Cas9 from Streptococcus pyogenes (AAV-SpGuide and -SpCas9) was adapted to edit genomic VEGFR2 in primary human retinal microvascular endothelial cells (HRECs). In this system, the endothelial-specific promoter for intercellular adhesion molecule 2 (ICAM2) was cloned into the dual AAV vectors of SpGuide and SpCas9 for driving expression of green fluorescence protein (GFP) and SpCas9, respectively. These two AAV vectors were applied to production of recombinant AAV serotype 5 (rAAV5), which were used to infect HRECs for depletion of VEGFR2. Protein expression was determined by Western blot; and cell proliferation, migration, as well as tube formation were examined.
AAV5 effectively infected vascular endothelial cells (ECs) and retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells; the ICAM2 promoter drove expression of GFP and SpCas9 in HRECs, but not in RPE cells. The results showed that the rAAV5-CRISPR/Cas9 depleted VEGFR2 by 80% and completely blocked VEGF-induced activation of Akt, and proliferation, migration as well as tube formation of HRECs.
AAV-CRISRP/Cas9–mediated depletion of VEGFR2 is a potential therapeutic strategy for pathologic angiogenesis.
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