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author:("ankara, denis")
1.  Rapid optical control of nociception with an ion channel photoswitch 
Nature methods  2012;9(4):396-402.
Local anesthetics are effective in suppressing pain sensation, but most of these compounds act non-selectively, inhibiting the activity of all neurons. Moreover, their actions abate slowly, preventing precise spatial and temporal control of nociception. We have developed a photoisomerizable molecule named QAQ (Quaternary ammonium – Azobenzene – Quaternary ammonium) that enables rapid and selective optical control of nociception. QAQ is membrane-impermeant and it has no effect on most cells, but it infiltrates pain-sensing neurons through endogenous ion channels that are activated by noxious stimuli, primarily TRPV1. After QAQ accumulates intracellularly, it blocks voltage-gated ion channels in the trans but not the cis form. QAQ enables reversible optical silencing of mouse nociceptive neuron firing without exogenous gene expression and can serve as a light-sensitive analgesic in rats in vivo. Moreover, because intracellular QAQ accumulation is a consequence of nociceptive ion channel activity, QAQ-mediated photosensitization provides a new platform for understanding signaling mechanisms in acute and chronic pain.
PMCID: PMC3906498  PMID: 22343342
2.  Systemic scAAV9 variant mediates brain transduction in newborn rhesus macaques 
Scientific Reports  2012;2:253.
Transgenic macaques would allow to study brain function and diseases. We report that an engineered adeno-associated virus serotype 9 variant (scAAV9) injected intravenously in newborn rhesus macaques results in efficient, exclusively-neuronal and widespread transduction of the brain. The present data pave the way to large-scale genetic modelling of brain diseases in the rhesus macaque.
PMCID: PMC3275921  PMID: 22355765
3.  Intravitreal Injection of AAV2 Transduces Macaque Inner Retina 
Intravitreally injected AAV2 transduced inner retinal cells in a restricted region at the macaque fovea. Because macaque and human eyes are similar, the results suggest a need to improve transduction methods in gene therapy for the human inner retina.
Adeno-associated virus serotype 2 (AAV2) has been shown to be effective in transducing inner retinal neurons after intravitreal injection in several species. However, results in nonprimates may not be predictive of transduction in the human inner retina, because of differences in eye size and the specialized morphology of the high-acuity human fovea. This was a study of inner retina transduction in the macaque, a primate with ocular characteristics most similar to that of humans.
In vivo imaging and histology were used to examine GFP expression in the macaque inner retina after intravitreal injection of AAV vectors containing five distinct promoters.
AAV2 produced pronounced GFP expression in inner retinal cells of the fovea, no expression in the central retina beyond the fovea, and variable expression in the peripheral retina. AAV2 vector incorporating the neuronal promoter human connexin 36 (hCx36) transduced ganglion cells within a dense annulus around the fovea center, whereas AAV2 containing the ubiquitous promoter hybrid cytomegalovirus (CMV) enhancer/chicken-β-actin (CBA) transduced both Müller and ganglion cells in a dense circular disc centered on the fovea. With three shorter promoters—human synapsin (hSYN) and the shortened CBA and hCx36 promoters (smCBA and hCx36sh)—AAV2 produced visible transduction, as seen in fundus images, only when the retina was altered by ganglion cell loss or enzymatic vitreolysis.
The results in the macaque suggest that intravitreal injection of AAV2 would produce high levels of gene expression at the human fovea, important in retinal gene therapy, but not in the central retina beyond the fovea.
PMCID: PMC3088562  PMID: 21310920
4.  Changes in Adeno-Associated Virus-Mediated Gene Delivery in Retinal Degeneration 
Human Gene Therapy  2010;21(5):571-578.
Gene therapies for retinal degeneration have relied on subretinal delivery of viral vectors carrying therapeutic DNA. The subretinal injection is clearly not ideal as it limits the viral transduction profile to a focal region at the injection site and negatively affects the neural retina by detaching it from the supportive retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). We assessed changes in adeno-associated virus (AAV) dispersion and transduction in the degenerating rat retina after intravitreal delivery. We observed a significant increase in AAV-mediated gene transfer in the diseased compared with normal retina, the extent of which depends on the AAV serotype injected. We also identified key structural changes that correspond to increased viral infectivity. Particle diffusion and transgene accumulation in normal and diseased retina were monitored via fluorescent labeling of viral capsids and quantitative PCR. Viral particles were observed to accumulate at the vitreoretinal junction in normal retina, whereas particles spread into the outer retina and RPE in degenerated tissue. Immunohistochemistry illustrates remarkable changes in the architecture of the inner limiting membrane, which are likely to underlie the increased viral transduction in diseased retina. These data highlight the importance of characterizing gene delivery vectors in diseased tissue as structural and biochemical changes can alter viral vector transduction patterns. Furthermore, these results indicate that gene delivery to the outer nuclear layer may be achieved by noninvasive intravitreal AAV administration in the diseased state.
Kolstad et al. evaluate the distribution of vector particles and transduction of AAV administered intravitreally in diseased versus healthy retinas. Whereas healthy retinas are not very receptive to vector penetration and transduction following intravitreal injection, in retinal degenerations the authors show improved and more extensive gene transfer.
PMCID: PMC3143418  PMID: 20021232
5.  Molecular Evolution of Adeno-Associated Virus for Enhanced Glial Gene Delivery 
Due to the natural tropism of most viral vectors, including adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors, efficient gene delivery within the central nervous system and retina occurs primarily to neurons and epithelia. Despite the clinical relevance of glia for homeostasis in neural tissue, and as causal contributors in genetic disorders such as Alzheimer's and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, efforts to develop more efficient gene delivery vectors for glia have met with limited success. Recently, viral vector engineering involving high-throughput random diversification and selection has enabled the rapid creation of novel AAV vectors with valuable new gene delivery properties. We have engineered novel AAV variants capable of efficient glia transduction by employing directed evolution with a panel of four distinct AAV libraries, including a new semi-random peptide replacement strategy. Several novel variants transduced both human and rat astrocytes in vitro up to 15-fold higher than their parent serotypes, and injection into the rat striatum led to astrocyte transduction levels up to 16% of the total transduced cell population. Furthermore, one variant exhibited a substantial shift in tropism towards Müller glia within the retina, further highlighting the general utility of these variants for efficient glia transduction within the CNS and retina.
PMCID: PMC2788045  PMID: 19672246
6.  A Novel Adeno-Associated Viral Variant for Efficient and Selective Intravitreal Transduction of Rat Müller Cells 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(10):e7467.
The pathologies of numerous retinal degenerative diseases can be attributed to a multitude of genetic factors, and individualized treatment options for afflicted patients are limited and cost-inefficient. In light of the shared neurodegenerative phenotype among these disorders, a safe and broad-based neuroprotective approach would be desirable to overcome these obstacles. As a result, gene delivery of secretable-neuroprotective factors to Müller cells, a type of retinal glia that contacts all classes of retinal neurons, represents an ideal approach to mediate protection of the entire retina through a simple and innocuous intraocular, or intravitreal, injection of an efficient vehicle such as an adeno-associated viral vector (AAV). Although several naturally occurring AAV variants have been isolated with a variety of tropisms, or cellular specificities, these vectors inefficiently infect Müller cells via intravitreal injection.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We have previously applied directed evolution to create several novel AAV variants capable of efficient infection of both rat and human astrocytes through iterative selection of a panel of highly diverse AAV libraries. Here, in vivo and in vitro characterization of these isolated variants identifies a previously unreported AAV variant ShH10, closely related to AAV serotype 6 (AAV6), capable of efficient, selective Müller cell infection through intravitreal injection. Importantly, this new variant shows significantly improved transduction relative to AAV2 (>60%) and AAV6.
Our findings demonstrate that AAV is a highly versatile vector capable of powerful shifts in tropism from minor sequence changes. This isolated variant represents a new therapeutic vector to treat retinal degenerative diseases through secretion of neuroprotective factors from Müller cells as well as provides new opportunities to study their biological functions in the retina.
PMCID: PMC2758586  PMID: 19826483

Results 1-6 (6)