Improved survival and reduced phenotypic severity following AAV9/MECP2 gene transfer to neonatal and juvenile male Mecp2 knockout mice.
Typical Rett syndrome (RTT) is a pediatric disorder caused by loss-of-function mutations in the methyl-CpG binding protein 2 (MECP2) gene. The demonstrated reversibility of RTT-like phenotypes in mice suggests that MECP2 gene replacement is a potential therapeutic option in patients. We report improvements in survival and phenotypic severity in Mecp2-null male mice after neonatal intracranial delivery of a single-stranded (ss) AAV9/chicken β-actin (CBA)-MECP2 vector. Median survival was 16.6 weeks for MECP2-treated versus 9.3 weeks for green fluorescent protein (GFP)-treated mice. ssAAV9/CBA-MECP2-treated mice also showed significant improvement in the phenotype severity score, in locomotor function, and in exploratory activity, as well as a normalization of neuronal nuclear volume in transduced cells. Wild-type (WT) mice receiving neonatal injections of the same ssAAV9/CBA-MECP2 vector did not show any significant deficits, suggesting a tolerance for modest MeCP2 overexpression. To test a MECP2 gene replacement approach in a manner more relevant for human translation, a self-complementary (sc) adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector designed to drive MeCP2 expression from a fragment of the Mecp2 promoter was injected intravenously (IV) into juvenile (4-5 weeks old) Mecp2-null mice. While the brain transduction efficiency in juvenile mice was low (~2-4% of neurons), modest improvements in survival were still observed. These results support the concept of MECP2 gene therapy for RTT.
Gadalla, KKE; Bailey, MES; Spike, RC; Ross, PD; Woodard, KT; Kalburgi, SN; Bachaboina, L; Deng, JV; West, AE; Samulski, RJ; Gray, SJ; Cobb, SR
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