Rhodopsin (RHO) mutations represent a common cause of blindness, accounting for 25% of autosomal dominant Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) and 8-10% of all RP. Although gene therapy has been successfully applied to retinal degeneration caused by recessive mutations, therapeutic intervention for dominant mutations are still lagging behind. In this study, we explored the efficacy of newly described CRISPR/Cas9 variants with altered PAM specificity and nearly completely reduced off-target effects, to specifically inactivate two highly frequent dominant mutations, P23H and P347S, mapped in the N-terminal and the C-terminal region of the RHO gene, respectively. We designed gRNAs on the mutations to compare allele-specific targeting of the high fidelity SpCas9 (SpCas9-HF1), the respective VQR variant (SpCas9-VQR-HF1) or the SaCas9, and we tested gRNAs in vitro on HeLa clones stably expressing P23H, P347S or wild-type RHO. Analysis of insertions or deletions (Indels) in the genomic DNA specifically in the RHO gene, by Cel-I assay and sequencing, identified the most efficient and mutation-specific system able to induce Indels in the P23H or P347S RHO mutated allele, with almost undetectable editing of the wild-type allele. We are going to package the selected CRISPR/Cas9-gRNA in AAV2/8 particles to test this approach in P23H or P347S RHO transgenic mice, to evaluate retina functionality and vision recovery upon CRISPR/Cas9-mediated editing. Our results will provide clear evidences about the employment of CRISPR/Cas9 system to selectively target dominant mutations and the preclinical application of this strategy for patients affected by RP due to mutations in the RHO gene.
CRISPR/Cas9-mediated specific knock-down of dominant mutations in Rhodopsin gene / Benati, Daniela; Manel, Llado; Patrizi, Clarissa; Schiroli, Davide; Marigo, Valeria; Auricchio, Alberto; Recchia, Alessandra. - (2017). (Intervento presentato al convegno 25th Anniversary Congress of the ESGCT tenutosi a Berlin (Germany) nel 17-20 October 2017).