Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pulmonology; Horae Gene Therapy Center
Genetics and Genomics | Ophthalmology | Therapeutics
Transplantation of a donor cornea to restore vision is the most frequently performed transplantation in the world. Corneal endothelial cells (CEC) are crucial for the outcome of a graft as they maintain corneal transparency and avoid graft failure due to corneal opaqueness. Given the characteristic of being a monolayer and in direct contact with culture medium during cultivation in eye banks, CEC are specifically suitable for gene therapeutic approaches prior to transplantation. Recombinant adeno-associated virus 2 (rAAV2) vectors represent a promising tool for gene therapy of CEC. However, high vector titers are needed to achieve sufficient gene expression. One of the rate-limiting steps for transgene expression is the conversion of single-stranded (ss-) DNA vector genome into double-stranded (ds-) DNA. This step can be bypassed by using self-complementary (sc-) AAV2 vectors. Aim of this study was to compare for the first time transduction efficiencies of ss- and scAAV2 vectors in CEC. For this purpose AAV2 vectors containing enhanced green fluorescent protein (GFP) as transgene were used. Both in CEC and in donor corneas, transduction with scAAV2 resulted in significantly higher transgene expression compared to ssAAV2. The difference in transduction efficiency decreased with increasing vector titer. In most cases, only half the vector titer of scAAV2 was required for equal or higher gene expression rates than those of ssAAV2. In human donor corneas, GFP expression was 64.7+/-11.3% (scAAV) and 38.0+/-8.6% (ssAAV) (p < 0.001), respectively. Furthermore, transduced cells maintained their viability and showed regular morphology. Working together with regulatory authorities, a translation of AAV2 vector-mediated gene therapy to achieve a temporary protection of corneal allografts during cultivation and transplantation could therefore become more realistic.
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Citation: PLoS One. 2016 Mar 29;11(3):e0152589. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0152589. eCollection 2016. Link to article on publisher's site
Gruenert, Anja K.; Czugala, Marta; Mueller, Christian; Schmeer, Marco; Schleef, Martin; Kruse, Friedrich E.; and Fuchsluger, Thomas A., "Self-Complementary Adeno-Associated Virus Vectors Improve Transduction Efficiency of Corneal Endothelial Cells" (2016). Pediatric Publications and Presentations. 81.
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