The gangliosidoses GM2 are a group of pathologies mainly affecting the central nervous system due to the impaired GM2 ganglioside degradation inside the lysosome. Under physiological conditions, GM2 ganglioside is catabolized by the β-hexosaminidase A in a GM2 activator protein-dependent mechanism. In contrast, uncharged substrates such as globosides and some glycosaminoglycans can be hydrolyzed by the β-hexosaminidase B. Monogenic mutations on HEXA, HEXB, or GM2A genes arise in the Tay-Sachs (TSD), Sandhoff (SD), and AB variant diseases, respectively. In this work, we validated a CRISPR/Cas9-based gene editing strategy that relies on a Cas9 nickase (nCas9) as a potential approach for treating GM2 gangliosidoses using in vitro models for TSD and SD. The nCas9 contains a mutation in the catalytic RuvC domain but maintains the active HNH domain, which reduces potential off-target effects. Liposomes (LPs)- and novel magnetoliposomes (MLPs)-based vectors were used to deliver the CRISPR/nCas9 system. When LPs were used as a vector, positive outcomes were observed for the β-hexosaminidase activity, glycosaminoglycans levels, lysosome mass, and oxidative stress. In the case of MLPs, a high cytocompatibility and transfection ratio was observed, with a slight increase in the β-hexosaminidase activity and significant oxidative stress recovery in both TSD and SD cells. These results show the remarkable potential of CRISPR/nCas9 as a new alternative for treating GM2 gangliosidoses, as well as the superior performance of non-viral vectors in enhancing the potency of this therapeutic approach.
Keywords: CRISPR/nCas9; GM2 gangliosidoses; Sandhoff; Tay–Sachs; genome editing; non-viral vectors.