Restoration of visual response in aged dystrophic RCS rats using AAV-mediated channelopsin-2 gene transfer

Hiroshi Tomita, Eriko Sugano, Hiromu Yawo, Toru Ishizuka, Hitomi Isago, Satoko Narikawa, Sebastian Kügler, Makoto Tamai

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133 Citations (Scopus)


PURPOSE. To investigate whether the channelopsin-2 (Chop2) gene would restore visual responses in 10-month-old dystrophic Royal College of Surgeons (aged RCS; rdy/rdy) rats, the authors transferred the Chop2 gene into the retinal cells of aged RCS rats using the adenoassociated virus (AAV) vector. METHODS. The N-terminal fragment (residues 1-315) of Chop2 was fused to a fluorescent protein, Venus, in frame at the end of the Chop2 coding fragment. The viral vector construct (AAV-Chop2V) for the expression of the Chop2V in the retina was made by subcloning into an adenoassociated virus vector, including the CAG promoter. To evaluate the expression profile of Chop2V in the retina, the rats were killed and the eyes were removed and fixed with 4% paraformaldehyde in 0.1 M phosphate-buffered saline. Retinal wholemount specimens and cryosections were made. Under anesthetized conditions, electrodes for the recording of visually evoked potentials (VEPs) were implanted onto the visual cortex in aged-RCS (rdy/rdy) rats. AAV-Chop2V vectors were then injected into the vitreous cavity of the left eyes. As a control, AAV-Venus vectors were applied to the right eyes. VEPs were evoked by the flash of a blue, white, or red light-emitting diode (LED) and were recorded from the visual cortex of the rats at various time points after the AAV vector injection. RESULTS. Chop2V fluorescence was predominantly observed in retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). Some fluorescence was observed in the inner nuclear layer and the inner plexiform layer neurites. A tendency of recovery was observed in the VEPs of aged RCS (rdy/rdy) rats after the AAV-Chop2V injection but not after the AAV-Venus injection. The visual response of AAV-Chop2V-injected aged RCS (rdy/rdy) rats was less sensitive to the blue LED flash than that of nondystrophic RCS (+/+) rats. The AAV-Chop2V-injected aged RCS (rdy/rdy) rats were insensitive to the red LED flash, which evoked a robust VEP in the RCS (+/+) rats. CONCLUSIONS. The visual response of aged RCS (rdy/rdy) rats was partially restored by transduction of the Chop2 gene through AAV into the inner retinal neurons, mainly RGCs. These results suggest that the transduction of Chop2 would provide a new strategy to treat some retinitis pigmentosa (RP) symptoms independent of their etiology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3821-3826
Number of pages6
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Aug
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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