on Gene therapy
by Colella P, Trapani I, Cesi G, Sommella A, Manfredi A, Puppo A, Iodice C, Rossi S, Simonelli F, Giunti M, Bacci ML, Auricchio A
Gene therapy with adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors is limited by AAV cargo capacity that prevents their application to the inherited retinal diseases (IRDs), such as Stargardt disease (STGD) or Usher syndrome type IB (USH1B), which are due to mutations in genes larger than 5 kb. Trans-splicing or hybrid dual AAV vectors have been successfully exploited to reconstitute large gene expression in the mouse retina. Here, we tested them in the large cone-enriched pig retina that closely mimics the human retina. We found that dual AAV trans-splicing and hybrid vectors transduce pig photoreceptors, the major cell targets for treatment of IRDs, to levels that were about two- to threefold lower than those obtained with a single AAV vector of normal size. This efficiency is significantly higher than that in mice, and is potentially due to the high levels of dual AAV co-transduction we observe in pigs. We also show that subretinal delivery in pigs of dual AAV trans-splicing and hybrid vectors successfully reconstitute, albeit at variable levels, the expression of the large genes ABCA4 and MYO7A mutated in STGD and USH1B, respectively. Our data support the potential of dual AAV vectors for large gene reconstitution in the cone-enriched pig retina that is a relevant preclinical model.
on EMBO molecular medicine
by Trapani I, Colella P, Sommella A, Iodice C, Cesi G, de Simone S, Marrocco E, Rossi S, Giunti M, Palfi A, Farrar GJ, Polishchuk R, Auricchio A
Retinal gene therapy with adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors is safe and effective in humans. However, AAV's limited cargo capacity prevents its application to therapies of inherited retinal diseases due to mutations of genes over 5 kb, like Stargardt's disease (STGD) and Usher syndrome type IB (USH1B). Previous methods based on 'forced' packaging of large genes into AAV capsids may not be easily translated to the clinic due to the generation of genomes of heterogeneous size which raise safety concerns. Taking advantage of AAV's ability to concatemerize, we generated dual AAV vectors which reconstitute a large gene by either splicing (trans-splicing), homologous recombination (overlapping), or a combination of the two (hybrid). We found that dual trans-splicing and hybrid vectors transduce efficiently mouse and pig photoreceptors to levels that, albeit lower than those achieved with a single AAV, resulted in significant improvement of the retinal phenotype of mouse models of STGD and USH1B. Thus, dual AAV trans-splicing or hybrid vectors are an attractive strategy for gene therapy of retinal diseases that require delivery of large genes.
on Mediators of inflammation
by Di Filippo C, Zippo MV, Maisto R, Trotta MC, Siniscalco D, Ferraro B, Ferraraccio F, La Motta C, Sartini S, Cosconati S, Novellino E, Gesualdo C, Simonelli F, Rossi S, D'Amico M
The study investigated the effects of the aldose reductase (AR) inhibitor benzofuroxane derivative 5(6)-(benzo[d]thiazol-2-ylmethoxy) benzofuroxane (herein referred to as BF-5m) on the biochemical and tissue alterations induced by endotoxic uveitis in rats. BF-5m has been administered directly into the vitreous, in order to assess the expression and levels of (i) inflammatory markers such as the ocular ubiquitin-proteasome system, NF-κB, TNF-α, and MCP-1; (ii) prooxidant and antioxidant markers such as nitrotyrosine, manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD), and glutathione peroxidase (GPX); (iii) apoptotic/antiapoptotic factors caspases and Bcl-xl; (iv) markers of endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) recruitment such as CD34 and CD117. 5 μL of BF-5m (0.01; 0.05; and 0.1 μM) into the right eye decreased in a dose-dependent manner the LPS-induced inflammation of the eye, reporting a clinical score 1. It reduced the ocular levels of ubiquitin, 20S and 26S proteasome subunits, NF-κB subunits, TNF-α, MCP-1, and nitrotyrosine. BF-5m ameliorated LPS-induced decrease in levels of MnSOD and GPX. Antiapoptotic effects were seen from BF-5m by monitoring the expression of Bcl-xl, an antiapoptotic protein. Similarly, BF-5m increased recruitment of the EPCs within the eye, as evidenced by CD34 and CD117 antibodies.
on Human gene therapy
by Manfredi A, Marrocco E, Puppo A, Cesi G, Sommella A, Della Corte M, Rossi S, Giunti M, Craft CM, Bacci ML, Simonelli F, Surace EM, Auricchio A
Gene transfer to both cone and rod photoreceptors (PRs) is essential for gene therapy of inherited retinal degenerations that are caused by mutations in genes expressed in both PR types. Vectors based on the adeno-associated virus (AAV) efficiently transduce PRs of different species. However, these are predominantly rods and little is known about the ability of the AAV to transduce cones in combination with rods. Here we show that AAV2/8 transduces pig cones to levels that are similar to AAV2/9, and the outer nuclear layer (mainly rods) to levels that are on average higher, although not statistically significant, than both AAV2/5 and AAV2/9. We additionally found that the ubiquitous cytomegalovirus (CMV), but not the PR-specific GRK1 promoter, transduced pig cones efficiently, presumably because GRK1 is not expressed in pig cones as observed in mice and humans. Indeed, the GRK1 and CMV promoters transduce a similar percentage of murine cones with the CMV reaching the highest expression levels. Consistent with this, the AAV2/8 vectors with either the CMV or the GRK1 promoter restore cone function in a mouse model of Leber congenital amaurosis type 1 (LCA1), supporting the use of AAV2/8 for gene therapy of LCA1 as well as of other retinal diseases requiring gene transfer to both PR types.
by Testa F, Maguire AM, Rossi S, Pierce EA, Melillo P, Marshall K, Banfi S, Surace EM, Sun J, Acerra C, Wright JF, Wellman J, High KA, Auricchio A, Bennett J, Simonelli F
The aim of this study was to show the clinical data of long-term (3-year) follow-up of 5 patients affected by Leber congenital amaurosis type 2 (LCA2) treated with a single unilateral injection of adeno-associated virus AAV2-hRPE65v2.
on The British journal of ophthalmology
by Rossi S, Testa F, Li A, Yaylacioğlu F, Gesualdo C, Hejtmancik JF, Simonelli F
The aim of the study was to describe the clinical and genetic features of 15 Italian patients with Bietti crystalline dystrophy (BCD).
on PloS one
by Puppo A, Bello A, Manfredi A, Cesi G, Marrocco E, Della Corte M, Rossi S, Giunti M, Bacci ML, Simonelli F, Surace EM, Kobinger GP, Auricchio A
Recombinant adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors are known to safely and efficiently transduce the retina. Among the various AAV serotypes available, AAV2/5 and 2/8 are the most effective for gene transfer to photoreceptors (PR), which are the most relevant targets for gene therapy of inherited retinal degenerations. However, the search for novel AAV serotypes with improved PR transduction is ongoing. In this work we tested vectors derived from five AAV serotypes isolated from porcine tissues (referred to as porcine AAVs, four of which are newly identified) for their ability to transduce both the murine and the cone-enriched pig retina. Porcine AAV vectors expressing EGFP under the control of the CMV promoter were injected subretinally either in C57BL/6 mice or Large White pigs. The resulting retinal tropism was analyzed one month later on histological sections, while levels of PR transduction were assessed by Western blot. Our results show that all porcine AAV transduce murine and porcine retinal pigment epithelium and PR upon subretinal administration. AAV2/po1 and 2/po5 are the most efficient porcine AAVs for murine PR transduction and exhibit the strongest tropism for pig cone PR. The levels of PR transduction obtained with AAV2/po1 and 2/po5 are similar, albeit not superior, to those obtained with AAV2/5 and AAV2/8, which evinces AAV2/po1 and 2/po5 to be promising vectors for retinal gene therapy.
on Nature communications
by Verginelli F, Perin A, Dali R, Fung KH, Lo R, Longatti P, Guiot MC, Del Maestro RF, Rossi S, di Porzio U, Stechishin O, Weiss S, Stifani S
Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common and deadly malignant brain cancer, with a median survival of <2 years. GBM displays a cellular complexity that includes brain tumour-initiating cells (BTICs), which are considered as potential key targets for GBM therapies. Here we show that the transcription factors FOXG1 and Groucho/TLE are expressed in poorly differentiated astroglial cells in human GBM specimens and in primary cultures of GBM-derived BTICs, where they form a complex. FOXG1 knockdown in BTICs causes downregulation of neural stem/progenitor and proliferation markers, increased replicative senescence, upregulation of astroglial differentiation genes and decreased BTIC-initiated tumour growth after intracranial transplantation into host mice. These effects are phenocopied by Groucho/TLE knockdown or dominant inhibition of the FOXG1:Groucho/TLE complex. These results provide evidence that transcriptional programmes regulated by FOXG1 and Groucho/TLE are important for BTIC-initiated brain tumour growth, implicating FOXG1 and Groucho/TLE in GBM tumourigenesis.
on Case reports in ophthalmology
by Rossi S, Testa F, Attanasio M, Orrico A, de Benedictis A, Corte MD, Simonelli F
To report on 4 patients affected by Stargardt's disease (STGD) with fundus flavimaculatus (FFM) and ABCA4 gene mutation associated with subretinal fibrosis.
on Biomedical engineering online
by Melillo P, Pecchia L, Testa F, Rossi S, Bennett J, Simonelli F
Objective techniques to assess the amelioration of vision in patients with impaired visual function are needed to standardize efficacy assessment in gene therapy trials for ocular diseases. Pupillometry has been investigated in several diseases in order to provide objective information about the visual reflex pathway and has been adopted to quantify visual impairment in patients with Leber Congenital Amaurosis (LCA). In this paper, we describe detailed methods of pupillometric analysis and a case study on three Italian patients affected by Leber Congenital Amaurosis (LCA) involved in a gene therapy clinical trial at two follow-up time-points: 1 year and 3 years after therapy administration.