CHM/REP1cDNA delivery by lentiviral vectors provides functional expression of the transgene in the retinal pigment epithelium of choroideremia mice

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Abstract

Background

Choroideremia (CHM) is a progressive X-linked degeneration of three ocular layers: photoreceptors, retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and choroid, caused by the loss of Rab Escort Protein-1 (REP1). As a recessive monogenic disorder, CHM is potentially curable by gene addition therapy. The present study aimed to evaluate the potential use of lentiviral vectors carrying CHM/REP1 cDNA transgene for CHM treatment.

Methods

We generated lentiviral vectors carrying either CHM/REP1 cDNA or EGFP transgene under the control of the elongation factor-1α promoter (EF-1α) or its shortened version EFS. We transduced human (HT1080) and dog (D17) cells, CHM patient's fibroblasts and mouse primary RPE cells in vitro, as well as wild-type and CHM mouse retinas in vivo by subretinal injections. Transgene expression was confirmed by immunoblotting, fluorescence-activated cell sorting, immunofluorescence and confocal microscopy. CHM/REP1 transgene functionality was assessed by an in vitro prenylation assay.

Results

Lentiviral vectors with CHM/REP1 and EGFP transgenes efficiently transduced HT1080, D17 and CHM fibroblast cells; CHM/REP1 transgene lead to an increase in prenylation activity. Subretinal injections of lentiviral vectors into mouse retinas resulted in efficient transduction of the RPE (30–35% of total RPE cells transduced after a 1-μl injection), long-term expression for at least 6 months and a decrease in amount of unprenylated Rabs in the CHM RPE. Transduction of neuroretinal cells was restricted to the injection site.

Conclusions

Lentiviral CHM/REP1 cDNA transgene rescues the prenylation defect in CHM mouse RPE and thus could be used to restore REP1 activity in the RPE of CHM patients. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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