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1.  Silencing Mutant Huntingtin by Adeno-Associated Virus-Mediated RNA Interference Ameliorates Disease Manifestations in the YAC128 Mouse Model of Huntington's Disease 
Human Gene Therapy  2014;25(5):461-474.
Huntington's disease (HD) is a fatal autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disease caused by an increase in the number of polyglutamine residues in the huntingtin (Htt) protein. With the identification of the underlying basis of HD, therapies are being developed that reduce expression of the causative mutant Htt. RNA interference (RNAi) that seeks to selectively reduce the expression of such disease-causing agents is emerging as a potential therapeutic strategy for this and similar disorders. This study examines the merits of administering a recombinant adeno-associated viral (AAV) vector designed to deliver small interfering RNA (siRNA) that targets the degradation of the Htt transcript. The aim was to lower Htt levels and to correct the behavioral, biochemical, and neuropathological deficits shown to be associated with the YAC128 mouse model of HD. Our data demonstrate that AAV-mediated RNAi is effective at transducing greater than 80% of the cells in the striatum and partially reducing the levels (∼40%) of both wild-type and mutant Htt in this region. Concomitant with these reductions are significant improvements in behavioral deficits, reduction of striatal Htt aggregates, and partial correction of the aberrant striatal transcriptional profile observed in YAC128 mice. Importantly, a partial reduction of both the mutant and wild-type Htt levels is not associated with any notable overt neurotoxicity. Collectively, these results support the continued development of AAV-mediated RNAi as a therapeutic strategy for HD.
PMCID: PMC4028091  PMID: 24484067
2.  Sustained therapeutic reversal of Huntington’s disease by transient repression of huntingtin synthesis 
Neuron  2012;74(6):1031-1044.
The primary cause of Huntington’s disease (HD) is expression of huntingtin with a polyglutamine expansion. Despite an absence of consensus on the mechanism(s) of toxicity, diminishing the synthesis of mutant huntingtin will abate toxicity if delivered to the key affected cells. With antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) that catalyze RNase H-mediated degradation of huntingtin mRNA, we demonstrate that transient infusion into the cerebral spinal fluid of symptomatic HD mouse models not only delays disease progression, but mediates a sustained reversal of disease phenotype that persists longer than the huntingtin knockdown. Reduction of wild type huntingtin, along with mutant huntingtin, produces the same sustained disease reversal. Similar ASO infusion into non-human primates is shown to effectively lower huntingtin in many brain regions targeted by HD pathology. Rather than requiring continuous treatment, our findings establish a therapeutic strategy for sustained HD disease reversal produced by transient ASO-mediated diminution of huntingtin synthesis.
PMCID: PMC3383626  PMID: 22726834
Behavioral neuroscience  2011;125(6):911-920.
Syrian hamsters readily form dominant-subordinate relationships under laboratory conditions. Winning or losing in agonistic encounters can have striking, long-term effects on social behavior, but the mechanisms underlying this experience-induced behavioral plasticity are unclear. The present study tested the hypothesis that changes in brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) may at least in part mediate this plasticity. Male hamsters were paired for 15-min using a resident-intruder model, and individuals were identified as winners or losers on the basis of their behavior. BDNF was examined with in situ hybridization 2 hours after treatment during the consolidation period of emotional learning. Losing animals had significantly more BDNF mRNA in the basolateral (BLA) and medial (MeA) nuclei of the amygdala when compared to winning animals as well as novel cage and home cage controls. Interestingly, winning animals had significantly more BDNF mRNA in the dentate gyrus of the dorsal hippocampus (DHPC DG) than did losing animals, novel and home cage controls. No conflict-related changes in BDNF mRNA were observed in several other regions including the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis and central amygdala. Next, we demonstrated that K252a, a Trk receptor antagonist, significantly reduced the acquisition of conditioned defeat when administered within the BLA. These data support a model in which BDNF-mediated plasticity within the BLA supports learning of submission or subordinate social status in losing animals, whereas BDNF-mediated plasticity within the hippocampus may instantiate aspects of winning such as control of a territory in dominant animals.
PMCID: PMC3232038  PMID: 22122152
stress; plasticity; basolateral amygdala; hippocampus; submission
4.  Antisense Oligonucleotides Delivered to the Mouse CNS Ameliorate Symptoms of Severe Spinal Muscular Atrophy 
Science translational medicine  2011;3(72):72ra18.
Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is an autosomal recessive neuromuscular disorder caused by mutations in the SMN1 gene that result in a deficiency of SMN protein. One approach to treat SMA is to use antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) to redirect the splicing of a paralogous gene, SMN2, to boost production of functional SMN. Injection of a 2′-O-2-methoxyethyl–modified ASO (ASO-10-27) into the cerebral lateral ventricles of mice with a severe form of SMA resulted in splice-mediated increases in SMN protein and in the number of motor neurons in the spinal cord, which led to improvements in muscle physiology, motor function and survival. Intrathecal infusion of ASO-10-27 into cynomolgus monkeys delivered putative therapeutic levels of the oligonucleotide to all regions of the spinal cord. These data demonstrate that central nervous system–directed ASO therapy is efficacious and that intrathecal infusion may represent a practical route for delivering this therapeutic in the clinic.
PMCID: PMC3140425  PMID: 21368223

Results 1-4 (4)