Gene Therapy

Gene Therapy Publications

Ikeda Y, Sun Z, Ru X, Vandenberghe LH, Humphreys BD. Efficient Gene Transfer to Kidney Mesenchymal Cells Using a Synthetic Adeno-Associated Viral Vector. J Am Soc Nephrol 2018;Abstract
BACKGROUND: After injury, mesenchymal progenitors in the kidney interstitium differentiate into myofibroblasts, cells that have a critical role in kidney fibrogenesis. The ability to deliver genetic material to myofibroblast progenitors could allow new therapeutic approaches to treat kidney fibrosis. Preclinical and clinical studies show that adeno-associated viruses (AAVs) efficiently and safely transduce various tissue targets ; however, protocols for transduction of kidney mesenchymal cells have not been established. METHODS: We evaluated the transduction profiles of various pseudotyped AAV vectors expressing either GFP or Cre recombinase reporters in mouse kidney and human kidney organoids. RESULTS: Of the six AAVs tested, a synthetic AAV called Anc80 showed specific and high-efficiency transduction of kidney stroma and mesangial cells. We characterized the cell specificity, dose dependence, and expression kinetics and showed the efficacy of this approach by knocking out Gli2 from kidney mesenchymal cells by injection of Anc80-Cre virus into either homozygous or heterozygous Gli2-floxed mice. After unilateral ureteral obstruction, the homozygous Gli2-floxed mice had less fibrosis than the Gli2 heterozygotes had. We observed the same antifibrotic effect in -catenin-floxed mice injected with Anc80-Cre virus before obstructive injury, strongly supporting a central role for canonical Wnt signaling in kidney myofibroblast activation. Finally, we showed that the Anc80 synthetic virus can transduce the mesenchymal lineage in human kidney organoids. CONCLUSIONS: These studies establish a novel method for inducible knockout of floxed genes in mouse mesangium, pericytes, and perivascular fibroblasts and are the foundation for future gene therapy approaches to treat kidney fibrosis.
Tang SM, Lau T, Rong SS, Yazar S, Chen LJ, Mackey DA, Lucas RM, Pang CP, Yam JC. Vitamin D and its pathway genes in myopia: systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Ophthalmol 2018;Abstract
OBJECTIVE: To conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of the association of blood vitamin D (25-hydroxyvitamin D, 25(OH)D) concentration and vitamin D pathway genes with myopia. METHODS: We searched the MEDLINE and EMBASE databases for studies published up to 29 January 2018. Cross-sectional or cohort studies which evaluated the blood 25(OH)D concentration, blood 25(OH)D3 concentration or vitamin D pathway genes, in relation to risk of myopia or refractive errors were included. Standard mean difference (SMD) of blood 25(OH)D concentrations between the myopia and non-myopia groups was calculated. The associations of blood 25(OH)D concentrations and polymorphisms in vitamin D pathway genes with myopia using summary ORs were evaluated. RESULTS: We summarised seven studies involving 25 008 individuals in the meta-analysis. The myopia group had lower 25(OH)D concentration than the non-myopia group (SMD=-0.27 nmol/L, p=0.001). In the full analysis, the risk of myopia was inversely associated with blood 25(OH)D concentration after adjusting for sunlight exposure or time spent outdoors (adjusted odds ratio (AOR)=0.92 per 10 nmol/L, p<0.0001). However, the association was not statistically significant for the <18 years subgroup (AOR=0.91 per 10 nmol/L, p=0.13) and was significant only for 25(OH)D3 (likely to be mainly sunlight derived), but not total 25(OH)D (AOR=0.93 per 10 nmol/L, p=0.00007; AOR=0.91 per 10 nmol/L, p=0.15). We analysed four single nucleotide polymorphisms in the VDR gene from two studies; there was no significant association with myopia. CONCLUSIONS: Lower 25(OH)D is associated with increased risk of myopia; the lack of a genetic association suggests that 25(OH)D level may be acting as a proxy for time outdoors.
Maurer AC, Pacouret S, Cepeda Diaz AK, Blake J, Andres-Mateos E, Vandenberghe LH. The Assembly-Activating Protein Promotes Stability and Interactions between AAV's Viral Proteins to Nucleate Capsid Assembly. Cell Rep 2018;23(6):1817-1830.Abstract
The adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector is a preferred delivery platform for in vivo gene therapy. Natural and engineered variations of the AAV capsid affect a plurality of phenotypes relevant to gene therapy, including vector production and host tropism. Fundamental to these aspects is the mechanism of AAV capsid assembly. Here, the role of the viral co-factor assembly-activating protein (AAP) was evaluated in 12 naturally occurring AAVs and 9 putative ancestral capsid intermediates. The results demonstrate increased capsid protein stability and VP-VP interactions in the presence of AAP. The capsid's dependence on AAP can be partly overcome by strengthening interactions between monomers within the assembly, as illustrated by the transfer of a minimal motif defined by a phenotype-to-phylogeny mapping method. These findings suggest that the emergence of AAP within the Dependovirus genus relaxes structural constraints on AAV assembly in favor of increasing the degrees of freedom for the capsid to evolve.
Di Gioia SA, Shaaban S, Tüysüz B, Elcioglu NH, Chan W-M, Robson CD, Ecklund K, Gilette NM, Hamzaoglu A, Tayfun GA, Traboulsi EI, Engle EC. Recessive MYF5 Mutations Cause External Ophthalmoplegia, Rib, and Vertebral Anomalies. Am J Hum Genet 2018;103(1):115-124.Abstract
MYF5 is member of the Myc-like basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor family and, in cooperation with other myogenic regulatory factors MYOD and MYF5, is a key regulator of early stages of myogenesis. Here, we report three consanguineous families with biallelic homozygous loss-of-function mutations in MYF5 who define a clinical disorder characterized by congenital ophthalmoplegia with scoliosis and vertebral and rib anomalies. The clinical phenotype overlaps strikingly with that reported in several Myf5 knockout mouse models. Affected members of two families share a haploidentical region that contains a homozygous 10 bp frameshift mutation in exon 1 of MYF5 (c.23_32delAGTTCTCACC [p.Gln8Leufs86]) predicted to undergo nonsense-mediated decay. Affected members of the third family harbor a homozygous missense change in exon 1 of MYF5 (c.283C>T [p.Arg95Cys]). Using in vitro assays, we show that this missense mutation acts as a loss-of-function allele by impairing MYF5 DNA binding and nuclear localization. We performed whole-genome sequencing in one affected individual with the frameshift mutation and did not identify additional rare variants in the haploidentical region that might account for differences in severity among the families. These data support the direct role of MYF5 in rib, spine, and extraocular muscle formation in humans.
Strainiene E, Binkis M, Urnikyte S, Stankevicius V, Sasnauskiene A, Kundrotas G, Kazlauskas A, Suziedelis K. Microenvironment dependent gene expression signatures in reprogrammed human colon normal and cancer cell lines. BMC Cancer 2018;18(1):222.Abstract
BACKGROUND: Since the first evidence suggesting existence of stem-like cancer cells, the process of cells reprogramming to the stem cell state remains as an attractive tool for cancer stemness research. Current knowledge in the field of cancer stemness, indicates that the microenvironment is a fundamental regulator of cell behavior. With regard to this, we investigated the changes of genome wide gene expression in reprogrammed human colon normal epithelial CRL-1831 and colon carcinoma DLD1 cell lines grown under more physiologically relevant three-dimensional (3D) cell culture microenvironment compared to 2D monolayer. METHODS: Whole genome gene expression changes were evaluated in both cell lines cultured under 3D conditions over a 2D monolayer by gene expression microarray analysis. To evaluate the biological significance of gene expression changes, we performed pathway enrichment analysis using the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) database. Gene network analysis was used to study relationships between differentially expressed genes (DEGs) in functional categories by the GeneMANIA Cytoscape toolkit. RESULTS: In total, we identified 3228 and 2654 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) for colon normal and cancer reprogrammed cell lines, respectively. Furthermore, the expression of 1097 genes was commonly regulated in both cell lines. KEGG enrichment analysis revealed that in total 129 and 101 pathways for iPSC-CRL-1831 and for CSC-DLD1, respectively, were enriched. Next, we grouped these pathways into three functional categories: cancer transformation/metastasis, cell interaction, and stemness. β-catenin (CTNNB1) was confirmed as a hub gene of all three functional categories. CONCLUSIONS: Our present findings suggest common pathways between reprogrammed human colon normal epithelium (iPSC-CRL-1831) and adenocarcinoma (CSC-DLD1) cells grown under 3D microenvironment. In addition, we demonstrated that pathways important for cancer transformation and tumor metastatic activity are altered both in normal and cancer stem-like cells during the transfer from 2D to 3D culture conditions. Thus, we indicate the potential of cell culture models enriched in normal and cancer stem-like cells for the identification of new therapeutic targets in cancer treatment.
Dudek AM, Pillay S, Puschnik AS, Nagamine CM, Cheng F, Qiu J, Carette JE, Vandenberghe LH. An Alternate Route for Adeno-associated Virus (AAV) Entry Independent of AAV Receptor. J Virol 2018;92(7)Abstract
Determinants and mechanisms of cell attachment and entry steer adeno-associated virus (AAV) in its utility as a gene therapy vector. Thus far, a systematic assessment of how diverse AAV serotypes engage their proteinaceous receptor AAVR (KIAA0319L) to establish transduction has been lacking, despite potential implications for cell and tissue tropism. Here, a large set of human and simian AAVs as well as -reconstructed ancestral AAV capsids were interrogated for AAVR usage. We identified a distinct AAV capsid lineage comprised of AAV4 and AAVrh32.33 that can bind and transduce cells in the absence of AAVR, independent of the multiplicity of infection. Virus overlay assays and rescue experiments in nonpermissive cells demonstrate that these AAVs are unable to bind to or use the AAVR protein for entry. Further evidence for a distinct entry pathway was observed , as AAVR knockout mice were equally as permissive to transduction by AAVrh32.33 as wild-type mice upon systemic injection. We interestingly observe that some AAV capsids undergo a low level of transduction in the absence of AAVR, both and , suggesting that some capsids may have a multimodal entry pathway. In aggregate, our results demonstrate that AAVR usage is conserved among all primate AAVs except for those of the AAV4 lineage, and a non-AAVR pathway may be available to other serotypes. This work furthers our understanding of the entry of AAV, a vector system of broad utility in gene therapy. Adeno-associated virus (AAV) is a nonpathogenic virus that is used as a vehicle for gene delivery. Here, we have identified several situations in which transduction is retained in both cell lines and a mouse model in the absence of a previously defined entry receptor, AAVR. Defining the molecular determinants of the infectious pathway of this highly relevant viral vector system can help refine future applications and therapies with this vector.
Carvalho LS, Xiao R, Wassmer SJ, Langsdorf A, Zinn E, Pacouret S, Shah S, Comander JI, Kim LA, Lim L, Vandenberghe LH. Synthetic Adeno-Associated Viral Vector Efficiently Targets Mouse and Nonhuman Primate Retina In Vivo. Hum Gene Ther 2018;29(7):771-784.Abstract
Gene therapy is a promising approach in the treatment of inherited and common complex disorders of the retina. Preclinical and clinical studies have validated the use of adeno-associated viral vectors (AAV) as a safe and efficient delivery vehicle for gene transfer. Retinal pigment epithelium and rods-and to a lesser extent, cone photoreceptors-can be efficiently targeted with AAV. Other retinal cell types however are more challenging targets. The aim of this study was to characterize the transduction profile and efficiency of in silico designed, synthetic Anc80 AAVs for retinal gene transfer. Three Anc80 variants were evaluated for retinal targeting in mice and primates following subretinal delivery. In the murine retina Anc80L65 demonstrated high level of retinal pigment epithelium and photoreceptor targeting with comparable cone photoreceptor affinity compared to other AAVs. Remarkably, Anc80L65 enhanced transduction kinetics with visible expression as early as day 1 and steady state mRNA levels at day 3. Inner retinal tropism of Anc80 variants demonstrated distinct transduction patterns of Müller glia, retinal ganglion cells and inner nuclear layer neurons. Finally, murine findings with Anc80L65 qualitatively translated to the Rhesus macaque in terms of cell targets, levels and onset of expression. Our findings support the use of Anc80L65 for therapeutic subretinal gene delivery.
Tao Y, Huang M, Shu Y, Ruprecht A, Wang H, Tang Y, Vandenberghe LH, Wang Q, Gao G, Kong W-J, Chen Z-Y. Delivery of Adeno-Associated Virus Vectors in Adult Mammalian Inner-Ear Cell Subtypes Without Auditory Dysfunction. Hum Gene Ther 2018;29(4):492-506.Abstract
Hearing loss, including genetic hearing loss, is one of the most common forms of sensory deficits in humans with limited options of treatment. Adeno-associated virus (AAV)-mediated gene transfer has been shown to recover auditory functions effectively in mouse models of genetic deafness when delivered at neonatal stages. However, the mouse cochlea is still developing at those time points, whereas in humans, the newborn inner ears are already fully mature. For effective gene therapy to treat genetic deafness, it is necessary to determine whether AAV-mediated therapy can be equally effective in the fully mature mouse inner ear without causing damage to the inner ear. This study tested several AAV serotypes by canalostomy in adult mice. It is shown that most AAVs transduce the sensory inner hair cells efficiently, but are less efficient at transducing outer hair cells. A subset of AAVs also transduces non-sensory cochlear cell types. Neither the surgical procedure of canalostomy nor the AAV serotypes damage hair cells or impair normal hearing. The studies indicate that canalostomy can be a viable route for safe and efficient gene delivery, and they expand the repertoire of AAVs to target diverse cell types in the adult inner ear.
Richarme G, Liu C, Mihoub M, Abdallah J, Leger T, Joly N, Liebart J-C, Jurkunas UV, Nadal M, Bouloc P, Dairou J, Lamouri A. Guanine glycation repair by DJ-1/Park7 and its bacterial homologs. Science 2017;357(6347):208-211.Abstract
DNA damage induced by reactive carbonyls (mainly methylglyoxal and glyoxal), called DNA glycation, is quantitatively as important as oxidative damage. DNA glycation is associated with increased mutation frequency, DNA strand breaks, and cytotoxicity. However, in contrast to guanine oxidation repair, how glycated DNA is repaired remains undetermined. Here, we found that the parkinsonism-associated protein DJ-1 and its bacterial homologs Hsp31, YhbO, and YajL could repair methylglyoxal- and glyoxal-glycated nucleotides and nucleic acids. DJ-1-depleted cells displayed increased levels of glycated DNA, DNA strand breaks, and phosphorylated p53. Deglycase-deficient bacterial mutants displayed increased levels of glycated DNA and RNA and exhibited strong mutator phenotypes. Thus, DJ-1 and its prokaryotic homologs constitute a major nucleotide repair system that we name guanine glycation repair.
Olivares AM, Han Y, Soto D, Flattery K, Marini J, Molemma N, Haider A, Escher P, Deangelis MM, Haider NB. The nuclear hormone receptor gene Nr2c1 (Tr2) is a critical regulator of early retina cell patterning. Dev Biol 2017;429(1):343-355.Abstract
Nuclear hormone receptors play a major role in the development of many tissues. This study uncovers a novel role for testicular receptor 2 (Tr2, Nr2c1) in defining the early phase of retinal development and regulating normal retinal cell patterning and topography. The mammalian retina undergoes an overlapping yet biphasic period of development to generate all seven retinal cell types. We discovered that Nr2c1 expression coincides with development of the early retinal cells. Loss of Nr2c1 causes a severe vision deficit and impacts early, but not late retina cell types. Retinal cone cell topography is disrupted with an increase in displaced amacrine cells. Additionally, genetic background significantly impacts phenotypic outcome of cone photoreceptor cells but not amacrine cells. Chromatin-IP experiments reveal NR2C1 regulates early cell transcription factors that regulate retinal progenitor cells during development, including amacrine (Satb2) and cone photoreceptor regulators thyroid and retinoic acid receptors. This study supports a role for Nr2c1 in defining the biphasic period of retinal development and specifically influencing the early phase of retinal cell fate.
Pan B, Askew C, Galvin A, Heman-Ackah S, Asai Y, Indzhykulian AA, Jodelka FM, Hastings ML, Lentz JJ, Vandenberghe LH, Holt JR, Géléoc GS. Gene therapy restores auditory and vestibular function in a mouse model of Usher syndrome type 1c. Nat Biotechnol 2017;35(3):264-272.Abstract

Because there are currently no biological treatments for hearing loss, we sought to advance gene therapy approaches to treat genetic deafness. We focused on Usher syndrome, a devastating genetic disorder that causes blindness, balance disorders and profound deafness, and studied a knock-in mouse model, Ush1c c.216G>A, for Usher syndrome type IC (USH1C). As restoration of complex auditory and balance function is likely to require gene delivery systems that target auditory and vestibular sensory cells with high efficiency, we delivered wild-type Ush1c into the inner ear of Ush1c c.216G>A mice using a synthetic adeno-associated viral vector, Anc80L65, shown to transduce 80-90% of sensory hair cells. We demonstrate recovery of gene and protein expression, restoration of sensory cell function, rescue of complex auditory function and recovery of hearing and balance behavior to near wild-type levels. The data represent unprecedented recovery of inner ear function and suggest that biological therapies to treat deafness may be suitable for translation to humans with genetic inner ear disorders.

Landegger LD, Pan B, Askew C, Wassmer SJ, Gluck SD, Galvin A, Taylor R, Forge A, Stankovic KM, Holt JR, Vandenberghe LH. A synthetic AAV vector enables safe and efficient gene transfer to the mammalian inner ear. Nat Biotechnol 2017;35(3):280-284.Abstract

Efforts to develop gene therapies for hearing loss have been hampered by the lack of safe, efficient, and clinically relevant delivery modalities. Here we demonstrate the safety and efficiency of Anc80L65, a rationally designed synthetic vector, for transgene delivery to the mouse cochlea. Ex vivo transduction of mouse organotypic explants identified Anc80L65 from a set of other adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors as a potent vector for the cochlear cell targets. Round window membrane injection resulted in highly efficient transduction of inner and outer hair cells in mice, a substantial improvement over conventional AAV vectors. Anc80L65 round window injection was well tolerated, as indicated by sensory cell function, hearing and vestibular function, and immunologic parameters. The ability of Anc80L65 to target outer hair cells at high rates, a requirement for restoration of complex auditory function, may enable future gene therapies for hearing and balance disorders.


PURPOSE: Inherited retinal dystrophies are a significant cause of vision loss and are characterized by the loss of photoreceptors and the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). Mutations in approximately 250 genes cause inherited retinal degenerations with a high degree of genetic heterogeneity. New techniques in next-generation sequencing are allowing the comprehensive analysis of all retinal disease genes thus changing the approach to the molecular diagnosis of inherited retinal dystrophies. This review serves to analyze clinical progress in genetic diagnostic testing and implications for retinal gene therapy. METHODS: A literature search of PubMed and OMIM was conducted to relevant articles in inherited retinal dystrophies. RESULTS: Next-generation genetic sequencing allows the simultaneous analysis of all the approximately 250 genes that cause inherited retinal dystrophies. Reported diagnostic rates range are high and range from 51% to 57%. These new sequencing tools are highly accurate with sensitivities of 97.9% and specificities of 100%. Retinal gene therapy clinical trials are underway for multiple genes including RPE65, ABCA4, CHM, RS1, MYO7A, CNGA3, CNGB3, ND4, and MERTK for which a molecular diagnosis may be beneficial for patients. CONCLUSION: Comprehensive next-generation genetic sequencing of all retinal dystrophy genes is changing the paradigm for how retinal specialists perform genetic testing for inherited retinal degenerations. Not only are high diagnostic yields obtained, but mutations in genes with novel clinical phenotypes are also identified. In the era of retinal gene therapy clinical trials, identifying specific genetic defects will increasingly be of use to identify patients who may enroll in clinical studies and benefit from novel therapies.

Arendt D, Musser JM, Baker CVH, Bergman A, Cepko C, Erwin DH, Pavlicev M, Schlosser G, Widder S, Laubichler MD, Wagner GP. The origin and evolution of cell types. Nat Rev Genet 2016;17(12):744-757.Abstract

Cell types are the basic building blocks of multicellular organisms and are extensively diversified in animals. Despite recent advances in characterizing cell types, classification schemes remain ambiguous. We propose an evolutionary definition of a cell type that allows cell types to be delineated and compared within and between species. Key to cell type identity are evolutionary changes in the 'core regulatory complex' (CoRC) of transcription factors, that make emergent sister cell types distinct, enable their independent evolution and regulate cell type-specific traits termed apomeres. We discuss the distinction between developmental and evolutionary lineages, and present a roadmap for future research.

Ramachandran P, Lee V, Wei Z, Song JY, Casal G, Cronin T, Willett K, Huckfeldt R, Morgan JIW, Aleman TS, Maguire AM, Bennett J. Evaluation of dose and safety of AAV7m8 and AAV8BP2 in the non-human primate retina. Hum Gene Ther 2016;Abstract

Within the next decade, we will see many gene therapy clinical trials for eye diseases progress, which may lead to treatments for thousands of visually impaired people around the world. To target retinal diseases that affect specific cell types, several recombinant adeno-associated virus (AAV) serotypes have been generated and used successfully in pre-clinical mouse studies. Because there are numerous anatomic, and physiologic differences between the eyes of mice and 'men' and because surgical delivery approaches and immunologic responses also differ between these species, we evaluated the transduction characteristics of two promising new serotypes AAV7m8 and AAV8BP2, in retinas of animals that are most similar to those of humans: non-human primates (NHPs). We report that while AAV7m8 efficiently targets a variety of cell types by subretinal injection in NHPs, transduction after intravitreal delivery was mostly restricted to the inner retina at lower doses that did not induce an immune response. AAV8BP2 targets the cone photoreceptors efficiently but bipolar cells inefficiently by subretinal injection. Additionally, we observed transduction of both serotypes in the anterior chamber of the eye and the optic pathway of the brain post intravitreal delivery. Finally, we assessed immunogenicity, keeping in mind that these AAV capsids may be used in future clinical trials. We found that AAV8BP2 had a better safety profile compared to AAV7m8 even at the highest doses administered. Our studies underscore the differences in AAV transduction between mice and primates highlighting the importance of careful evaluation of therapeutic vectors in NHPs prior to moving into clinical trials.