IJMS, Vol. 22, Pages 13111: Viral Transduction of Human Rod Opsin or Channelrhodopsin Variants to Mouse ON Bipolar Cells Does Not Impact Retinal Anatomy or Cause Measurable Death in the Targeted Cells (International Journal of Molecular Sciences)
The viral gene delivery of optogenetic actuators to the surviving inner retina has been proposed as a strategy for restoring vision in advanced retinal degeneration. We investigated the safety of ectopic expression of human rod opsin (hRHO), and two channelrhodopsins (enhanced sensitivity CoChR-3M and red-shifted ReaChR) by viral gene delivery in ON bipolar cells of the mouse retina. Adult Grm6Cre mice were bred to be retinally degenerate or non-retinally degenerate (homozygous and heterozygous for the rd1Pde6b mutation, respectively) and intravitreally injected with recombinant adeno-associated virus AAV2/2(quad Y-F) serotype containing a double-floxed inverted transgene comprising one of the opsins of interest under a CMV promoter. None of the opsins investigated caused changes in retinal thickness; induced apoptosis in the retina or in transgene expressing cells; or reduced expression of PKCα (a specific bipolar cell marker). No increase in retinal inflammation at the level of gene expression (IBA1/AIF1) was found within the treated mice compared to controls. The expression of hRHO, CoChR or ReaChR under a strong constitutive promoter in retinal ON bipolar cells following intravitreal delivery via AAV2 does not cause either gross changes in retinal health, or have a measurable impact on the survival of targeted cells.