Spinocerebellar ataxia type 3/Machado-Joseph disease (SCA3/MJD) is a progressive autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disease caused by abnormal CAG repeats in the exon 10 of ATXN3. The accumulation of the mutant ataxin-3 proteins carrying expanded polyglutamine (polyQ) leads to selective degeneration of neurons. Since the pathogenesis of SCA3 has not been fully elucidated, and no effective therapies have been identified, it is crucial to investigate the pathogenesis and seek new therapeutic strategies of SCA3. Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) can be used as the ideal cell model for the molecular pathogenesis of polyQ diseases. Abnormal CAG expansions mediated by CRISPR/Cas9 genome engineering technologies have shown promising potential for the treatment of polyQ diseases, including SCA3. In this study, SCA3-iPSCs can be corrected by the replacement of the abnormal CAG expansions (74 CAG) with normal repeats (17 CAG) using CRISPR/Cas9-mediated homologous recombination (HR) strategy. Besides, corrected SCA3-iPSCs retained pluripotent and normal karyotype, which can be differentiated into a neural stem cell (NSCs) and neuronal cells, and maintained electrophysiological characteristics. The expression of differentiation markers and electrophysiological characteristics were similar among the neuronal differentiation from normal control iPSCs (Ctrl-iPSCs), SCA3-iPSCs, and isogenic control SCA3-iPSCs. Furthermore, this study proved that the phenotypic abnormalities in SCA3 neurons, including aggregated IC2-polyQ protein, decreased mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) and glutathione expressions, increased reactive oxygen species (ROS), intracellular Ca2+ concentrations, and lipid peroxidase malondialdehyde (MDA) levels, all were rescued in the corrected SCA3-NCs. For the first time, this study demonstrated the feasibility of CRISPR/Cas9-mediated HR strategy to precisely repair SCA3-iPSCs, and reverse the corresponding abnormal disease phenotypes. In addition, the importance of genetic control using CRISPR/Cas9-mediated iPSCs for disease modeling. Our work may contribute to providing a potential ideal model for molecular mechanism research and autologous stem cell therapy of SCA3 or other polyQ diseases, and offer a good gene therapy strategy for future treatment.
© 2021. The Author(s).