AAV8(Y733F)-mediated gene therapy in a Spata7 knockout mouse model of Leber congenital amaurosis and retinitis pigmentosa

Gene Ther. 2015 Aug;22(8):619-27. doi: 10.1038/gt.2015.42. Epub 2015 May 12.


Loss of SPATA7 function causes the pathogenesis of Leber congenital amaurosis and retinitis pigmentosa. Spata7 knockout mice mimic human SPATA7-related retinal disease with apparent photoreceptor degeneration observed as early as postnatal day 15 (P15). To test the efficacy of adeno-associated virus (AAV)-mediated gene therapy for rescue of photoreceptor survival and function in Spata7 mutant mice, we employed the AAV8(Y733F) vector carrying hGRK1-driven full-length FLAG-tagged Spata7 cDNA to target both rod and cone photoreceptors. Following subretinal injection of this vector, FLAG-tagged SPATA7 was found to colocalize with endogenous SPATA7 in wild-type mice. In Spata7 mutant mice initially treated at P15, we observed improvement of photoresponse, photoreceptor ultrastructure and significant alleviation of photoreceptor degeneration. Furthermore, we performed treatments at P28 and P56 and found that all treatments (P15-P56) can ameliorate rod and cone loss in the long term (1 year); however, none efficiently protect photoreceptors from degeneration by 86 weeks of age as only a small amount of treated photoreceptors can survive to this time. This study demonstrates long-term improvement of photoreceptor function by AAV8(Y733F)-introduced Spata7 expression in a mouse model as potential treatment of the human disease, but also suggests that treated mutant photoreceptors still undergo progressive degeneration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Dependovirus / genetics*
  • Dependovirus / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Genetic Therapy*
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Leber Congenital Amaurosis / genetics
  • Leber Congenital Amaurosis / therapy*
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / metabolism
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / pathology
  • Retinal Rod Photoreceptor Cells / metabolism
  • Retinal Rod Photoreceptor Cells / pathology
  • Retinitis Pigmentosa / genetics
  • Retinitis Pigmentosa / therapy*


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • SPATA7 protein, mouse