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Petersen-Jones, Simon M.; Occelli, Laurence M.; Biel, Martin; Michalakis, Stylianos (2019): Advancing Gene Therapy for PDE6A Retinitis Pigmentosa. In: Retinal Degenerative Diseases: Mechanisms and Experimental Therapy, Vol. 1185: pp. 103-107
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Mutations in the gene encoding the phosphodiesterase 6 alpha subunit (PDE6A) account for 3-4% of autosomal recessive retinitis pigmentosa (RP), and currently no treatment is available. There are four animal models for PDE6A-RP: a dog with a frameshift truncating mutation (p.Asn616ThrfsTer39) and three mouse models with missense mutations (Val685Met, Asp562Trp, and Asp670Gly) showing a range of phenotype severities. Initial proof-of-concept gene augmentation studies in the Asp670Gly mouse model and dog model used a subretinally delivered adeno-associated virus serotype 8 with a 733 tyrosine capsid mutation delivering species-specific Pde6a cDNAs. These restored some rod-mediated function and preserved retinal structure. Subsequently, a translatable vector (AAV8 with a human rhodopsin promoter and human PDE6A cDNA) was tested in the dog and the Asp670Gly mouse model. In the dog, there was restoration of rod function, a robust rod-mediated ERG, and introduction of dim-light vision. Treatment improved morphology of the photoreceptor layer, and the retina was preserved in the treated region. In the Asp670Gly mouse, therapy also preserved photoreceptors with cone survival being reflected by maintenance of cone-mediated ERG responses. These studies are an important step toward a translatable therapy for PDE6A-RP.