RNA Therapeutics Institute Publications

UMMS Affiliation

RNA Therapeutics Institute; Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology

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Document Type



Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Structural Biology | Cell and Developmental Biology | Genetics and Genomics | Molecular Genetics | Therapeutics


Fuchs' endothelial corneal dystrophy (FECD) is the most common repeat expansion disorder. FECD impacts 4% of U.S. population and is the leading indication for corneal transplantation. Most cases are caused by an expanded intronic CUG tract in the TCF4 gene that forms nuclear foci, sequesters splicing factors and impairs splicing. We investigated the sense and antisense RNA landscape at the FECD gene and find that the sense-expanded repeat transcript is the predominant species in patient corneas. In patient tissue, sense foci number were negatively correlated with age and showed no correlation with sex. Each endothelial cell has approximately 2 sense foci and each foci is single RNA molecule. We designed antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) to target the mutant-repetitive RNA and demonstrated potent inhibition of foci in patient-derived cells. Ex vivo treatment of FECD human corneas effectively inhibits foci and reverses pathological changes in splicing. FECD has the potential to be a model for treating many trinucleotide repeat diseases and targeting the TCF4 expansion with ASOs represents a promising therapeutic strategy to prevent and treat FECD.

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© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please contact journals.permissions@oup.com

DOI of Published Version



Hum Mol Genet. 2018 Mar 15;27(6):1015-1026. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddy018. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Human molecular genetics

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Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License