AAV mediated gene therapy to modulate neurotropic factors in the retina and in neuronal cells in culture

Nitin Chitranshi, Roshana Vander Wall, Yogita Dheer, Stuart L. Graham, Vivek Gupta

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Abstract

Neurotrophic factors, particularly Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) and its high affinity receptor TrkB, play an important role in protecting the retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) in glaucoma. Translation of the immense neuro-protective potential of BDNF/ TrkB activation has been largely unsuccessful and gene therapy to modulate BDNF and TrkB have also shown only short-lived protective effects on the RGCs. PTPN11 phosphatase plays a key role in the regulation of BDNF/TrkB signaling in the retina. Here, we investigated the effects of PTPN11 modulation involving both over-expression and knock-down paradigms on the TrkB activation. PTPN11 and PTPN11-shRNA sequences were separately incorporated into the AAV2 vector under cytomegalovirus chicken β actin hybrid promoter linked with green fluorescent protein (GFP). SH-SY5Y cells were transfected with each of the PTPN11 modulating and control GFP constructs. PTPN11 over-expression resulted in significant reduced TrkB phosphorylation and accordingly reduced viability of the SH-SY5Y cells was observed while PTPN11 knockdown did not exhibit any significant effects on either TrkB phosphorylation or cellular survival. PTPN11 over-expression in neuronal cells was also accompanied by elevation of GADD, PERK and XBP-1 endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress marker proteins as detected using western blotting. The roles of PTPN11 and TrkB in mediating ER stress were evaluated by treating cells with PTPN11 inhibitor (PHPS1) or TrkB agonist (7,8-dihydroxyflavone) independently, both of which ablated the up-regulation of ER stress proteins upon PTPN11 overexpression. The effects of PTPN11 over-expression on the rat retina were evaluated by administering PTPN11 AAV2 construct along with corresponding GFP controls individually into the rat eyes. Briefly, 5µl of AAV2 constructs were injected intravitreally into SD rats (2x1010 vg). Anti-GFP staining in retinal sections demonstrated AAV2 transduction in the RGC layer. Anti-NeuN/ anti-PTPN11 staining confirmed the ganglion cell specific over-expression of PTPN11. Rat retinas were assessed for inner retinal functional changes using scotopic threshold response (STR) measurements. Retinal structural changes were assessed using histological analysis. Results indicate that pSTR amplitude which primarily reflects the function of the RGCs was significantly diminished in the PTPN11 over-expression model. Hematoxylin and eosin staining also revealed degenerative changes primarily associated with the inner retina. Assessment of optic nerve sections using Bielschowsky’s staining further identified reduced axonal density. Concluding, our findings strongly indicate that PTPN11 genetic modulation holds the promise to regulate neuronal cell survival through its effects on TrkB activation. PTPN11 over-expression exerts detrimental impact on the inner retinal health which has significant implications in glaucoma and other retinal disorders. Further studies involving rescue of the disease phenotype using PTPN11 knockdown in animal models will substantiate these observations and provide mechanistic insights into the roles of neurotrophic factor regulation in retina.
Original languageEnglish
Article number188
Pages (from-to)S73-S74
Number of pages2
JournalMolecular Therapy
Volume24
Issue numberSuppl. 1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2016
Event19th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy (ASGCT) - Washington
Duration: 4 May 20167 May 2016

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