Mullins Lab Publications
Chimeric Helper-Dependent Adenoviruses Transduce Retinal Ganglion Cells and Müller Cells in Human Retinal Explants
J Ocul Pharmacol Ther. 2021 Oct 1. doi: 10.1089/jop.2021.0057. Online ahead of print.
Purpose: Despite numerous recent advances in retinal gene therapy using adeno-associated viruses (AAVs) as delivery vectors, there remains a crucial need to identify viral vectors with the ability to transduce specific retinal cell types and that have a larger carrying capacity than AAV. In this study, we evaluate the retinal tropism of 2 chimeric helper-dependent adenoviruses (HDAds), helper-dependent adenovirus serotype 5 (HDAd5)/3 and HDAd5/35, both ex vivo using human retinal explants and in vivo using rats. Methods: We transduced cultured human retinal explants with HDAd5/3 and HDAd5/35 carrying an eGFP vector and evaluated tropism and transduction efficiency using immunohistochemistry. To assess in vivo transduction efficiency, subretinal injections were performed in wild-type Sprague-Dawley rats. For both explants and subretinal injections, we delivered 10 μL (1 × 106 vector genomes/mL) and assessed tropism at 7- and 14-days post-transduction, respectively. Results: HDAd5/3 and HDAd5/35 both transduced human retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) and Müller cells, but not photoreceptors, in human retinal explants. However, subretinal injections in albino rats resulted in transduction of the retinal pigmented epithelium only, highlighting species-specific differences in retinal tropism and the value of a human explant model when testing vectors for eventual human gene therapy. Conclusions: Chimeric HDAds are promising candidates for the delivery of large genes, multiple genes, or neuroprotective factors to Müller cells and RGCs. These vectors may have utility for targeted therapy of neurodegenerative diseases primarily involving retinal ganglion or Müller cell types, such as glaucoma or macular telangiectasia type 2.
Sensitive quantification of m.3243A>G mutational proportion in non-retinal tissues and its relationship with visual symptoms
Hum Mol Genet. 2021 Sep 30:ddab289. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddab289. Online ahead of print.
The m.3243A>G mutation in the mitochondrial genome commonly causes retinal degeneration in patients with maternally inherited diabetes and deafness (MIDD) and mitochondrial encephalopathy, lactic acidosis, and stroke-like episodes (MELAS). Like other mitochondrial mutations, m.3243A>G is inherited from the mother with a variable proportion of wild type and mutant mitochondrial genomes in different cells. The mechanism by which the m.3243A>G variant in each tissue relates to the manifestation of disease phenotype is not fully understood. Using a digital PCR assay we found that the % m.3243G in skin derived dermal fibroblasts was positively correlated with that of blood from the same individual. The % m.3243G detected in fibroblast cultures remained constant over multiple passages and was negatively correlated with mtDNA copy number. Although the % m.3243G present in blood was not correlated with severity of vision loss, as quantified by Goldmann visual field, a significant negative correlation between % m.3243G and the age of onset of visual symptoms was detected. Together, these results indicate that precise measurement of % m.3243G in clinically accessible tissues such as skin and blood may yield information relevant to the management of retinal m.3243A>G associated disease.
Development and biological characterization of a clinical gene transfer vector for the treatment of MAK-associated retinitis pigmentosa
Gene Ther. 2021 Sep 14. doi: 10.1038/s41434-021-00291-5. Online ahead of print.
By combining next generation whole exome sequencing and induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology we found that an Alu repeat inserted in exon 9 of the MAK gene results in a loss of normal MAK transcript and development of human autosomal recessive retinitis pigmentosa (RP). Although a relatively rare cause of disease in the general population, the MAK variant is enriched in individuals of Jewish ancestry. In this population, 1 in 55 individuals are carriers and one third of all cases of recessive RP is caused by this gene. The purpose of this study was to determine if a viral gene augmentation strategy could be used to safely restore functional MAK protein as a step toward a treatment for early stage MAK-associated RP. Patient iPSC-derived photoreceptor precursor cells were generated and transduced with viral vectors containing the MAK transcript. One week after transduction, transcript and protein could be detected via rt-PCR and western blotting respectively. Using patient-derived fibroblast cells and mak knockdown zebra fish we demonstrate that over-expression of the retinal MAK transgene restored the cells ability to regulate primary cilia length. In addition, the visual defect in mak knockdown zebrafish was mitigated via treatment with the retinal MAK transgene. There was no evidence of local or systemic toxicity at 1-month or 3-months following subretinal delivery of clinical grade vector into wild type rats. The findings reported here will help pave the way for initiation of a phase 1 clinical trial for the treatment of patients with MAK-associated RP.
Ophthalmol Retina. 2021 Aug 17:S2468-6530(21)00255-4. doi: 10.1016/j.oret.2021.08.005. Online ahead of print.
In this retrospective cohort study, we describe intrafamilial phenotypic variability of retinal hemangioblastoma (RH) in families with von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease. Patients with molecularly-confirmed VHL evaluated at our institution were identified and records reviewed. For individuals with sufficient follow up and imaging (n=27), number and location of RHs at the initial and most recent follow up visits were recorded along with treatment method and systemic manifestations. A strategy for zonal classification of RH location was used. Intrafamilial phenotypic variation was identified in 3 families. Intrafamilial phenotypic variability of RH exists between family members with VHL with the same genetic mutation.