Gene Therapy

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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.
Drokhlyansky E, Soh TK, Cepko CL. Preferential Budding of Vesicular Stomatitis Virus from the Basolateral Surface of Polarized Epithelial Cells Is Not Solely Directed by Matrix Protein or Glycoprotein. J Virol 2015;89(22):11718-22.Abstract

Vesicular stomatitis virus has been shown to bud basolaterally, and the matrix protein, but not glycoprotein, was proposed to mediate this asymmetry. Using polarized T84 monolayers, we demonstrate that no single viral protein is sufficient for polarized budding. Particles are released from the apical and basolateral surfaces and are indistinguishable, indicating that there is no apical assembly defect. We propose that aspects of host cell polarity create a more efficient budding process at the basolateral surface.

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.
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Ehrenberg M, Bagdonite-Bejarano L, Fulton AB, Orenstein N, Yahalom C. Genetic causes of nystagmus, foveal hypoplasia and subnormal visual acuity- other than albinism. Ophthalmic Genet 2021;42(3):243-251.Abstract
Background: To describe genetic molecular findings in individuals with congenital nystagmus, foveal hypoplasia, and subnormal vision, with normal ocular pigmentation (absence of diffuse transillumination or transparent retinal pigment typical for albinism).Methods: This is a retrospective, multicenter study of ophthalmic, systemic, and genetic features, as collected from medical records of patients diagnosed with infantile nystagmus and foveal hypoplasia. Ophthalmic findings include best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA), biomicroscopic examination, cycloplegic refraction, retinal examination, macular optical coherence tomography, and electroretinography. Genetic information was retrieved from the participating genetic clinics and included ethnicity and molecular diagnosis.Results: Thirty-one individuals met the inclusion criteria and had a secure molecular diagnosis. Mutations in two genes predominated, constituting 77.4% of all the represented genes: SLC38A8 (45.1%) and PAX6 (32.3%). Seventy-eight percent of the subjects who had a measurable BCVA had moderate and severe visual impairment (range 20/80 to 20/270). Most patients with a mutation in SLC38A8 had mild to moderate astigmatism, while most patients with PAX6 mutation had moderate and severe myopia. Patients in the PAX6 group had variable degrees of anterior segment manifestations.Conclusion: In our cohort, the main causative genes for congenital nystagmus and foveal hypoplasia in normally pigmented eyes were SLC38A8 and PAX6. A mild phenotype in PAX6 mutations may be an under-diagnosed cause of nystagmus and foveal hypoplasia. Reaching an accurate genetic diagnosis is essential for both the patients and their family members. This enables predicting disease prognosis, tailoring correct follow-up, and providing genetic counseling and family planning to affected families.
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Ferenchak K, Deitch I, Huckfeldt R. Antisense Oligonucleotide Therapy for Ophthalmic Conditions. Semin Ophthalmol 2021;36(5-6):452-457.Abstract
Antisense oligonucleotides (AON) are synthetic single-stranded fragments of nucleic acids that bind to a specific complementary messenger RNA (mRNA) sequence and change the final gene product. AON were initially approved for treating cytomegalovirus retinitis and have shown promise in treating Mendelian systemic disease. AON are currently being investigated as a treatment modality for many ophthalmic diseases, including inherited retinal disorders (IRD), inflammatory response and wound healing after glaucoma surgery, and macular degeneration. They provide a possible solution to gene therapy for IRD that are not candidates for adeno-associated virus (AAV) delivery. This chapter outlines the historical background of AON and reviews clinical applications and ongoing clinical trials.
Fuentealba LC, Rompani SB, Parraguez JI, Obernier K, Romero R, Cepko CL, Alvarez-Buylla A. Embryonic Origin of Postnatal Neural Stem Cells. Cell 2015;161(7):1644-55.Abstract

Adult neural stem/progenitor (B1) cells within the walls of the lateral ventricles generate different types of neurons for the olfactory bulb (OB). The location of B1 cells determines the types of OB neurons they generate. Here we show that the majority of mouse B1 cell precursors are produced between embryonic days (E) 13.5 and 15.5 and remain largely quiescent until they become reactivated postnatally. Using a retroviral library carrying over 100,000 genetic tags, we found that B1 cells share a common progenitor with embryonic cells of the cortex, striatum, and septum, but this lineage relationship is lost before E15.5. The regional specification of B1 cells is evident as early as E11.5 and is spatially linked to the production of neurons that populate different areas of the forebrain. This study reveals an early embryonic regional specification of postnatal neural stem cells and the lineage relationship between them and embryonic progenitor cells.

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Garanto A, Chung DC, Duijkers L, Corral-Serrano JC, Messchaert M, Xiao R, Bennett J, Vandenberghe LH, Collin RWJ. In vitro and in vivo rescue of aberrant splicing in CEP290-associated LCA by antisense oligonucleotide delivery. Hum Mol Genet 2016;Abstract

Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA) is a severe disorder resulting in visual impairment usually starting in the first year of life. The most frequent genetic cause of LCA is an intronic mutation in CEP290 (c.2991+1655A>G) that creates a cryptic splice donor site resulting in the insertion of a pseudoexon (exon X) into CEP290 mRNA. Previously, we showed that naked antisense oligonucleotides (AONs) effectively restored normal CEP290 splicing in patient-derived lymphoblastoid cells. We here explore the therapeutic potential treatment of naked and AAV-packaged AONs in vitro and in vivo In both cases, AON delivery fully restored CEP290 pre-mRNA splicing, significantly increased CEP290 protein levels and rescued a ciliary phenotype present in patient-derived fibroblast cells. Moreover, administration of naked and AAV-packaged AONs to the retina of a humanized mutant Cep290 mouse model, carrying the intronic mutation, showed a statistically significant reduction of exon X-containing Cep290 transcripts, without compromising the retinal structure. Together, our data highlight the tremendous therapeutic prospective of AONs for the treatment of not only CEP290-associated LCA but potentially many other subtypes of retinal dystrophy caused by splicing mutations.

Grotz S, Schäfer J, Wunderlich KA, Ellederova Z, Auch H, Bähr A, Runa-Vochozkova P, Fadl J, Arnold V, Ardan T, Veith M, Santamaria G, Dhom G, Hitzl W, Kessler B, Eckardt C, Klein J, Brymova A, Linnert J, Kurome M, Zakharchenko V, Fischer A, Blutke A, Döring A, Suchankova S, Popelar J, Rodríguez-Bocanegra E, Dlugaiczyk J, Straka H, May-Simera H, Wang W, Laugwitz K-L, Vandenberghe LH, Wolf E, Nagel-Wolfrum K, Peters T, Motlik J, Fischer DM, Wolfrum U, Klymiuk N. Early disruption of photoreceptor cell architecture and loss of vision in a humanized pig model of usher syndromes. EMBO Mol Med 2022;14(4):e14817.Abstract
Usher syndrome (USH) is the most common form of monogenic deaf-blindness. Loss of vision is untreatable and there are no suitable animal models for testing therapeutic strategies of the ocular constituent of USH, so far. By introducing a human mutation into the harmonin-encoding USH1C gene in pigs, we generated the first translational animal model for USH type 1 with characteristic hearing defect, vestibular dysfunction, and visual impairment. Changes in photoreceptor architecture, quantitative motion analysis, and electroretinography were characteristics of the reduced retinal virtue in USH1C pigs. Fibroblasts from USH1C pigs or USH1C patients showed significantly elongated primary cilia, confirming USH as a true and general ciliopathy. Primary cells also proved their capacity for assessing the therapeutic potential of CRISPR/Cas-mediated gene repair or gene therapy in vitro. AAV-based delivery of harmonin into the eye of USH1C pigs indicated therapeutic efficacy in vivo.
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Hafler BP. CLINICAL PROGRESS IN INHERITED RETINAL DEGENERATIONS: GENE THERAPY CLINICAL TRIALS AND ADVANCES IN GENETIC SEQUENCING. Retina 2017;37(3):417-423.Abstract

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.

Harwell CC, Fuentealba LC, Gonzalez-Cerrillo A, Parker PRL, Gertz CC, Mazzola E, Garcia MT, Alvarez-Buylla A, Cepko CL, Kriegstein AR. Wide Dispersion and Diversity of Clonally Related Inhibitory Interneurons. Neuron 2015;87(5):999-1007.Abstract

The mammalian neocortex is composed of two major neuronal cell types with distinct origins: excitatory pyramidal neurons and inhibitory interneurons, generated in dorsal and ventral progenitor zones of the embryonic telencephalon, respectively. Thus, inhibitory neurons migrate relatively long distances to reach their destination in the developing forebrain. The role of lineage in the organization and circuitry of interneurons is still not well understood. Utilizing a combination of genetics, retroviral fate mapping, and lineage-specific retroviral barcode labeling, we find that clonally related interneurons can be widely dispersed while unrelated interneurons can be closely clustered. These data suggest that migratory mechanisms related to the clustering of interneurons occur largely independent of their clonal origin.

Heidary G, Calderwood L, Cox GF, Robson CD, Teot LA, Mullon J, Anselm I. Optic atrophy and a Leigh-like syndrome due to mutations in the c12orf65 gene: report of a novel mutation and review of the literature. J Neuroophthalmol 2014;34(1):39-43.Abstract
Combined oxidative phosphorylation deficiency type 7 (COXPD7) is a rare disorder of mitochondrial metabolism that results in optic atrophy and Leigh syndrome-like disease. We describe 2 siblings with compound heterozygous mutations in the recently identified C12orf65 gene who presented with optic atrophy and mild developmental delays and subsequently developed bilateral, symmetric lesions in the brainstem reminiscent of Leigh syndrome. Repeat neuroimaging demonstrated reversibility of the findings in 1 sibling and persistent metabolic stroke in the other. This article highlights the phenotypic manifestations from a novel mutation in the C12orf65 gene and reviews the clinical presentation of the 5 other individuals reported to date who carry mutations in this gene.
Hildebrandt C, Fulton A, Rodan LH. Homozygous deletion of 21q22.2 in a patient with hypotonia, developmental delay, cortical visual impairment, and retinopathy. Am J Med Genet A 2021;185(2):555-560.Abstract
21q22 contains several dosage sensitive genes that are important in neurocognitive development. Determining impacts of gene dosage alterations in this region can be useful in establishing contributions of these genes to human development and disease. We describe a 15-month-old girl with a 1,140 kb homozygous deletion in the Down Syndrome Critical Region at 21q22.2 including 4 genes; B3GALT5, IGSF5, PCP4, DSCAM, and a microRNA (MIR4760). Clinical singleton genome sequencing did not report any candidate gene variants for the patient's phenotype. She presented with hypotonia, global developmental delay, cortical visual impairment, and mild facial dysmorphism. Ophthalmological exam was suggestive of retinopathy. We propose that the absence of DSCAM and PCP4 may contribute to the patient's neurological and retinal phenotype, while the role of absent B3GALT5 and IGSF5 in her presentation remain unclear at this time.
Hou Y, Lin H, Zhu L, Liu Z, Hu F, Shi J, Yang T, Shi X, Guo H, Tan X, Zhang L, Wang Q, Li Z, Zhao Y. The inhibitory effect of IFN-γ on protease HTRA1 expression in rheumatoid arthritis. J Immunol 2014;193(1):130-8.Abstract
The high temperature requirement A1 (HTRA1) is a potent protease involved in many diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, the regulatory mechanisms that control HTRA1 expression need to be determined. In this study, we demonstrated that IFN-γ significantly inhibited the basal and LPS-induced HTRA1 expression in fibroblasts and macrophages, which are two major cells for HTRA1 production in RA. Importantly, the inhibitory effect of IFN-γ on HTRA1 expression was evidenced in collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) mouse models and in human RA synovial cells. In parallel with the enhanced CIA incidence and pathological changes in IFN-γ-deficient mice, HTRA1 expression in the joint tissues was also increased as determined by real-time PCR and Western blots. IFN-γ deficiency increased the incidence of CIA and the pathological severity in mice. Neutralization of HTRA1 by Ab significantly reversed the enhanced CIA frequency and severity in IFN-γ-deficient mice. Mechanistically, IFN-γ negatively controls HTRA1 expression through activation of p38 MAPK/STAT1 pathway. Dual luciferase reporter assay and chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis showed that STAT1 could directly bind to HTRA1 promoter after IFN-γ stimulation. This study offers new insights into the molecular regulation of HTRA1 expression and its role in RA pathogenesis, which may have significant impact on clinical therapy for RA and possibly other HTRA1-related diseases, including osteoarthritis, age-related macular degeneration, and cancer.
Hu Z, Cano I, Saez-Torres KL, LeBlanc ME, Saint-Geniez M, Ng Y-S, Argüeso P, D'Amore PA. Elements of the Endomucin Extracellular Domain Essential for VEGF-Induced VEGFR2 Activity. Cells 2020;9(6)Abstract
Endomucin (EMCN) is the type I transmembrane glycoprotein, mucin-like component of the endothelial cell glycocalyx. We have previously shown that EMCN is necessary for vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-induced VEGF receptor 2 (VEGFR2) internalization and downstream signaling. To explore the structural components of EMCN that are necessary for its function and the molecular mechanism of EMCN in VEGF-induced endothelial functions, we generated a series of mouse EMCN truncation mutants and examined their ability to rescue VEGF-induced endothelial functions in human primary endothelial cells (EC) in which endogenous EMCN had been knocked down using siRNA. Expression of the mouse full-length EMCN (FL EMCN) and the extracellular domain truncation mutants ∆21-81 EMCN and ∆21-121 EMCN, but not the shortest mutant ∆21-161 EMCN, successfully rescued the VEGF-induced EC migration, tube formation, and proliferation. ∆21-161 EMCN failed to interact with VEGFR2 and did not facilitate VEGFR2 internalization. Deletion of COSMC (C1GalT1C1) revealed that the abundant mucin-type -glycans were not required for its VEGFR2-related functions. Mutation of the two -glycosylation sites on ∆21-121 EMCN abolished its interaction with VEGFR2 and its function in VEGFR2 internalization. These results reveal ∆21-121 EMCN as the minimal extracellular domain sufficient for VEGFR2-mediated endothelial function and demonstrate an important role for -glycosylation in VEGFR2 interaction, internalization, and angiogenic activity.
Huckfeldt R, Sobrin L. BEST1-One Gene, Many Diseases. JAMA Ophthalmol 2020;
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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;29(9):2287-2297.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.
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Jacob A, Brun L, Gil PJ, Ménard L, Bouzelha M, Broucque F, Roblin A, Vandenberghe LH, Adjali O, Robin C, François A, Blouin V, Penaud-Budloo M, Ayuso E. Homologous Recombination Offers Advantages Over Transposition-Based Systems to Generate Recombinant Baculovirus for Adeno-Associated Viral Vector Production. Biotechnol J 2020;:e2000014.Abstract
Viral vectors have a great potential for gene delivery, but manufacturing at a pharmaceutical scale is a big challenge for the industry. The baculovirus-insect cell system is one of the most scalable platforms to produce clinical-grade recombinant Adeno-Associated Virus (rAAV) vectors. The standard procedure to generate recombinant baculovirus is based on Tn7 transposition which is time-consuming and still suffers technical constraints. Moreover, werecently showed that baculoviral sequences adjacent to the AAV ITRs are preferentially encapsidated into the rAAV vector particles. This observation raised concerns about safety for clinical applications due to the presence of bacterial and antibiotic resistance coding sequences with a Tn7-mediated system for the construction of baculoviruses reagents. Here, weinvestigated a faster and safer method based on homologous recombination (HR). First, weconfirmed the functionality of the inserted cassette and the absence of undesirable genes into HR-derived baculoviral genomes. Strikingly, wefound that the exogenous cassette showed increased stability over passages when using the HR system. Finally, wetested these materials to produce rAAV vectors. The baculoviruses originated from both systems lead to high rAAV vector genome yields, with the advantage of the HR system being exempted from undesirable bacterial genes which provides an additional level of safety for the manufacturing of rAAV vectors. Overall, this study highlights the importance of the upstream process and starting biologic materials to generate safer rAAV biotherapeutic products. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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Keffeler EC, Iyer VS, Parthasarathy S, Ramsey MM, Gorman MJ, Barke TL, Varahan S, Olson S, Gilmore MS, Abdullahi ZH, Hancock EN, Hancock LE. Influence of the Alternative Sigma Factor RpoN on Global Gene Expression and Carbon Catabolism in Enterococcus faecalis V583. mBio 2021;12(3)Abstract
The alternative sigma factor σ54 has been shown to regulate the expression of a wide array of virulence-associated genes, as well as central metabolism, in bacterial pathogens. In Gram-positive organisms, the σ54 is commonly associated with carbon metabolism. In this study, we show that the Enterococcus faecalis alternative sigma factor σ54 (RpoN) and its cognate enhancer binding protein MptR are essential for mannose utilization and are primary contributors to glucose uptake through the Mpt phosphotransferase system. To gain further insight into how RpoN contributes to global transcriptional changes, we performed microarray transcriptional analysis of strain V583 and an isogenic rpoN mutant grown in a chemically defined medium with glucose as the sole carbon source. Transcripts of 340 genes were differentially affected in the rpoN mutant; the predicted functions of these genes mainly related to nutrient acquisition. These differentially expressed genes included those with predicted catabolite-responsive element (cre) sites, consistent with loss of repression by the major carbon catabolite repressor CcpA. To determine if the inability to efficiently metabolize glucose/mannose affected infection outcome, we utilized two distinct infection models. We found that the rpoN mutant is significantly attenuated in both rabbit endocarditis and murine catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI). Here, we examined a ccpA mutant in the CAUTI model and showed that the absence of carbon catabolite control also significantly attenuates bacterial tissue burden in this model. Our data highlight the contribution of central carbon metabolism to growth of E. faecalis at various sites of infection.IMPORTANCE Hospital-acquired infections account for 2 billion dollars annually in increased health care expenses and cause more than 100,000 deaths in the United States alone. Enterococci are the second leading cause of hospital-acquired infections. They form biofilms at surgical sites and are often associated with infections of the urinary tract following catheterization. Nutrient uptake and growth are key factors that influence their ability to cause disease. Our research identified a large set of genes that illuminate nutrient uptake pathways in enterococci. Perturbation of the metabolic circuit reduces virulence in a rabbit endocarditis model, as well as in catheter-associated urinary tract infection in mice. Targeting metabolic pathways that are important in infection may lead to new treatments against multidrug-resistant enterococcal infections.
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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.

Lee HJ, Colby KA. A review of the clinical and genetic aspects of aniridia. Semin Ophthalmol 2013;28(5-6):306-12.Abstract
Aniridia classically presents with a bilateral congenital absence or malformation of the irides, foveal hypoplasia, and nystagmus, and patients tend to develop visually significant pre-senile cataracts and keratopathy. Additionally, they are at high risk for developing glaucoma. Classic aniridia can be genetically defined as the presence of a PAX6 gene deletion or loss-of-function mutation that results in haploinsufficiency. Variants of aniridia, which include a condition previously referred to as autosomal dominant keratitis, are likely due to PAX6 mutations that lead to partial loss of PAX6 function. Aniridia-associated keratopathy (AAK) is a progressive and potentially debilitating problem affecting aniridic patients. The current treatments for AAK are to replace the limbal stem cells through keratolimbal allograft (KLAL) with or without subsequent keratoplasty for visual rehabilitation, or to implant a Boston type 1 keratoprosthesis. Future therapies for AAK may be aimed at the genetic modification of corneal limbal stem cells.

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