Broad distribution of ataxin 1 silencing in rhesus cerebella for spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 therapy

Brain. 2015 Dec;138(Pt 12):3555-66. doi: 10.1093/brain/awv292. Epub 2015 Oct 21.


Spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 is one of nine polyglutamine expansion diseases and is characterized by cerebellar ataxia and neuronal degeneration in the cerebellum and brainstem. Currently, there are no effective therapies for this disease. Previously, we have shown that RNA interference mediated silencing of ATXN1 mRNA provides therapeutic benefit in mouse models of the disease. Adeno-associated viral delivery of an engineered microRNA targeting ATXN1 to the cerebella of well-established mouse models improved motor phenotypes, neuropathy, and transcriptional changes. Here, we test the translatability of this approach in adult rhesus cerebella. Nine adult male and three adult female rhesus macaque were unilaterally injected with our therapeutic vector, a recombinant adeno-associated virus type 1 (rAAV1) expressing our RNAi trigger (miS1) and co-expressing enhanced green fluorescent protein (rAAV1.miS1eGFP) into the deep cerebellar nuclei using magnetic resonance imaging guided techniques combined with a Stealth Navigation system (Medtronics Inc.). Transduction was evident in the deep cerebellar nuclei, cerebellar Purkinje cells, the brainstem and the ventral lateral thalamus. Reduction of endogenous ATXN1 messenger RNA levels were ≥30% in the deep cerebellar nuclei, the cerebellar cortex, inferior olive, and thalamus relative to the uninjected hemisphere. There were no clinical complications, and quantitative and qualitative analyses suggest that this therapeutic intervention strategy and subsequent reduction of ATXN1 is well tolerated. Collectively the data illustrate the biodistribution and tolerability of rAAV1.miS1eGFP administration to the adult rhesus cerebellum and are supportive of clinical application for spinocerebellar ataxia type 1.

Keywords: ataxia; gene therapy; neurodegeneration; spinocerebellar ataxia.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ataxin-1 / deficiency*
  • Ataxin-1 / genetics
  • Brain Stem / metabolism
  • Cerebellar Nuclei / metabolism*
  • Dependovirus
  • Female
  • Genetic Therapy / methods*
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Purkinje Cells / metabolism
  • RNA Interference*
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxias / genetics*
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxias / therapy*
  • Thalamus / metabolism
  • Transduction, Genetic


  • Ataxin-1