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Peter J. Morgan-Warren, Jenna O'Neill, Felicity de Cogan, Igor Spivak, Hagit Ashush, Hagar Kalinski, Zubair Ahmed, Martin Berry, Elena Feinstein, Robert A. H. Scott, Ann Logan; siRNA-Mediated Knockdown of the mTOR Inhibitor RTP801 Promotes Retinal Ganglion Cell Survival and Axon Elongation by Direct and Indirect Mechanisms. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2016;57(2):429-443. doi: 10.1167/iovs.15-17511.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
To investigate, using in vivo and in vitro models, retinal ganglion cell (RGC) neuroprotective and axon regenerative effects and underlying mechanisms of siRTP801, a translatable small-interfering RNA (siRNA) targeting the mTOR negative regulator RTP801.
Adult rats underwent optic nerve (ON) crush (ONC) followed by intravitreal siRTP801 or control siRNA (siEGFP) every 8 days, with Brn3a+ RGC survival, GFAP+ reactive gliosis, and GAP43+ regenerating axons analyzed immunohistochemically 24 days after injury. Retinal cultures, prepared from uninjured animals or 5 days after ONC to activate retinal glia, were treated with siRTP801/controls in the presence/absence of rapamycin and subsequently assessed for RGC survival and neurite outgrowth, RTP801 expression, glial responses, and mTOR activity. Conditioned medium was analyzed for neurotrophin titers by ELISA.
Intravitreal siRTP801 enabled 82% RGC survival compared to 45% with siEGFP 24 days after ONC, correlated with greater GAP43+ axon regeneration at 400 to 1200 μm beyond the ONC site, and potentiated the reactive GFAP+ Müller glial response. In culture, siRTP801 had a direct RGC neuroprotective effect, but required GFAP+ activated glia to stimulate neurite elongation. The siRTP801-induced neuroprotection was significantly reduced, but not abolished, by rapamycin. The siRTP801 potentiated the production and release of neurotrophins NGF, NT-3, and BDNF, and prevented downregulation of RGC mTOR activity.
The RTP801 knockdown promoted RGC survival and axon elongation after ONC, without increasing de novo regenerative sprouting. The neuroprotection was predominantly direct, with mTORC1-dependent and -independent components. Enhanced neurite/axon elongation by siRTP801 required the presence of activated retinal glia and was mediated by potentiated secretion of neurotrophic factors.
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