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1.  Cav1.4 IT mouse as model for vision impairment in human congenital stationary night blindness type 2 
Channels  2013;7(6):503-513.
Mutations in the CACNA1F gene encoding the Cav1.4 Ca2+ channel are associated with X-linked congenital stationary night blindness type 2 (CSNB2). Despite the increasing knowledge about the functional behavior of mutated channels in heterologous systems, the pathophysiological mechanisms that result in vision impairment remain to be elucidated. This work provides a thorough functional characterization of the novel IT mouse line that harbors the gain-of-function mutation I745T reported in a New Zealand CSNB2 family.1 Electroretinographic recordings in IT mice permitted a direct comparison with human data. Our data supported the hypothesis that a hyperpolarizing shift in the voltage-dependence of channel activation—as seen in the IT gain-of-function mutant2—may reduce the dynamic range of photoreceptor activity. Morphologically, the retinal outer nuclear layer in adult IT mutants was reduced in size and cone outer segments appeared shorter. The organization of the outer plexiform layer was disrupted, and synaptic structures of photoreceptors had a variable, partly immature, appearance. The associated visual deficiency was substantiated in behavioral paradigms. The IT mouse line serves as a specific model for the functional phenotype of human CSNB2 patients with gain-of-function mutations and may help to further understand the dysfunction in CSNB.
PMCID: PMC4042485  PMID: 24051672
CSNB2; L-type calcium channel; channelopathies; gain-of-function; retinal
2.  Myosin7a Deficiency Results in Reduced Retinal Activity Which Is Improved by Gene Therapy 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e72027.
Mutations in MYO7A cause autosomal recessive Usher syndrome type IB (USH1B), one of the most frequent conditions that combine severe congenital hearing impairment and retinitis pigmentosa. A promising therapeutic strategy for retinitis pigmentosa is gene therapy, however its pre-clinical development is limited by the mild retinal phenotype of the shaker1 (sh1−/−) murine model of USH1B which lacks both retinal functional abnormalities and degeneration. Here we report a significant, early-onset delay of sh1−/− photoreceptor ability to recover from light desensitization as well as a progressive reduction of both b-wave electroretinogram amplitude and light sensitivity, in the absence of significant loss of photoreceptors up to 12 months of age. We additionally show that subretinal delivery to the sh1−/− retina of AAV vectors encoding the large MYO7A protein results in significant improvement of sh1−/− photoreceptor and retinal pigment epithelium ultrastructural anomalies which is associated with improvement of recovery from light desensitization. These findings provide new tools to evaluate the efficacy of experimental therapies for USH1B. In addition, although AAV vectors expressing large genes might have limited clinical applications due to their genome heterogeneity, our data show that AAV-mediated MYO7A gene transfer to the sh1−/− retina is effective.
PMCID: PMC3753344  PMID: 23991031
3.  Lack of the Sodium-Driven Chloride Bicarbonate Exchanger NCBE Impairs Visual Function in the Mouse Retina 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e46155.
Regulation of ion and pH homeostasis is essential for normal neuronal function. The sodium-driven chloride bicarbonate exchanger NCBE (Slc4a10), a member of the SLC4 family of bicarbonate transporters, uses the transmembrane gradient of sodium to drive cellular net uptake of bicarbonate and to extrude chloride, thereby modulating both intracellular pH (pHi) and chloride concentration ([Cl−]i) in neurons. Here we show that NCBE is strongly expressed in the retina. As GABAA receptors conduct both chloride and bicarbonate, we hypothesized that NCBE may be relevant for GABAergic transmission in the retina. Importantly, we found a differential expression of NCBE in bipolar cells: whereas NCBE was expressed on ON and OFF bipolar cell axon terminals, it only localized to dendrites of OFF bipolar cells. On these compartments, NCBE colocalized with the main neuronal chloride extruder KCC2, which renders GABA hyperpolarizing. NCBE was also expressed in starburst amacrine cells, but was absent from neurons known to depolarize in response to GABA, like horizontal cells. Mice lacking NCBE showed decreased visual acuity and contrast sensitivity in behavioral experiments and smaller b-wave amplitudes and longer latencies in electroretinograms. Ganglion cells from NCBE-deficient mice also showed altered temporal response properties. In summary, our data suggest that NCBE may serve to maintain intracellular chloride and bicarbonate concentration in retinal neurons. Consequently, lack of NCBE in the retina may result in changes in pHi regulation and chloride-dependent inhibition, leading to altered signal transmission and impaired visual function.
PMCID: PMC3467262  PMID: 23056253

Results 1-3 (3)