Antisense oligonucleotide therapy rescues disruptions in organization of exploratory movements associated with Usher syndrome type 1C in mice
Usher syndrome, Type 1C (USH1C) is an autosomal recessive inherited disorder in which a mutation in the gene encoding harmonin is associated with multi-sensory deficits (i.e., auditory, vestibular, and visual). USH1C (Usher) mice, engineered with a human USH1C mutation, exhibit these multi-sensory deficits by circling behavior and lack of response to sound. Administration of an antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) therapeutic that corrects expression of the mutated USH1C gene, has been shown to increase harmonin levels, reduce circling behavior, and improve vestibular and auditory function. The current study evaluates the organization of exploratory movements to assess spatial organization in Usher mice and determine the efficacy of ASO therapy in attenuating any such deficits. Usher and heterozygous mice received the therapeutic ASO, ASO-29, or a control, non-specific ASO treatment at postnatal day five. Organization of exploratory movements was assessed under dark and light conditions at two and six-months of age. Disruptions in exploratory movement organization observed in control-treated Usher mice were consistent with impaired use of self-movement and environmental cues. In general, ASO-29 treatment rescued organization of exploratory movements at two and six-month testing points. These observations are consistent with ASO-29 rescuing processing of multiple sources of information and demonstrate the potential of ASO therapies to ameliorate topographical disorientation associated with other genetic disorders.