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Yvan Arsenijevic, Corinne Kostic, Alberto Auricchio, JongEun Ihm; Use of a Short hPDE6b Promoter For Rod Gene Transfer in a Model of Severe Retinal Dystrophy, the Rd10 Mouse. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2012;53(14):1925.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Gene therapy of severe retinal dystrophies directly affecting photoreceptor is still a challenge in terms of clinical application. One of the main hurdles is to generate high transgene expression specifically in rods or cones. In the present study, we are investigating the possibility to drive hPDE6b expression in the Rd10 mouse retina using a specific sequence of the human PDE6b promoter.
Two 5’ flanking fragments of the human PDE6b gene: (-93 to +53 (146 bp) and -297 to +53 (350 bp, see Di Polo and Farber, 1995) were cloned in different plasmids in order to check their expression in vitro and in vivo. These elements drove the activity of either luciferase (pGL3 plasmids) or EGFP (AAV2/8 backbone). Then, an AAV2/8 vector carrying the PDE6b cDNA was tested with subretinal injections at P9 in the Rd10 eyes. Eye fundus, OCT, ERG recordings and histological investigations were performed to assess the efficacy of the gene transfer.
The short PDE6b promoter containing 146bp (-93 to +53) showed the highest activity in the Y-79 cells, as described previously (Di Polo and Farber, 1995). Subretinal administrations of AAV2/8-PDE6bpromoter-EGFP allowed a rapid expression specifically in rods and not in cones. The expression is faster than a vector containing the CMV promoter. The AAV2/8-PDE6bpromoter-PDE6b and the control vector were injected at P9 in the Rd10 mouse retina and investigated 5 weeks post-injection. Out of 14 eyes, 6 presented an increased rod sensitivity of about 300 fold, and increased a- and b-wave responses in ERG recordings. Flicker stimulations revealed that cones are also functional. OCT images and histological analyses revealed an increased ONL size in the injected area. The retina treated with the therapeutic vector presented 4-6 rows of photoreceptors with outersegments containing PDE6b. In the control eyes, only 2-4 rows of photoreceptors with almost no OS were observed .
The 146 bp promoter sequence (-93 to + 53) is the shortest regulatory element described to date which allows to obtain efficient rod-specific expression in the context of somatic gene transfer. This first result is of great interest for AAV vector design in general allowing more space for the accommodation of transgenes of interest and good expression in rods. Moreover we showed the proof of principle of the efficacy of AAV2/8-PDE6bp-PDE6b vector in the Rd10 mouse model of severe photoreceptor degeneration without using neither AAV mutated capsids, nor self-complementary vectors.
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