Copy number increase or decrease of certain dosage-sensitive genes may cause genetic diseases with distinct phenotypes, conceptually termed genomic disorders. The most common cause of Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease (PMD), an X-linked hypomyelinating leukodystrophy, is genomic duplication encompassing the entire proteolipid protein 1 (PLP1) gene. Although the exact molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying PLP1 duplication, which causes severe hypomyelination in the central nervous system, remain largely elusive, PLP1 overexpression is likely the fundamental cause of this devastating disease. Here, we investigated if adeno-associated virus–mediated (AAV-mediated) gene-specific suppression may serve as a potential cure for PMD by correcting quantitative aberrations in gene products. We developed an oligodendrocyte-specific Plp1 gene suppression therapy using artificial microRNA under the control of human CNP promoter in a self-complementary AAV (scAAV) platform. A single direct brain injection achieved widespread oligodendrocyte-specific Plp1 suppression in the white matter of WT mice. AAV treatment in Plp1-transgenic mice, a PLP1 duplication model, ameliorated cytoplasmic accumulation of Plp1, preserved mature oligodendrocytes from degradation, restored myelin structure and gene expression, and improved survival and neurological phenotypes. Together, our results provide evidence that AAV-mediated gene suppression therapy can serve as a potential cure for PMD resulting from PLP1 duplication and possibly for other genomic disorders.
Heng Li, Hironori Okada, Sadafumi Suzuki, Kazuhisa Sakai, Hitomi Izumi, Yukiko Matsushima, Noritaka Ichinohe, Yu-ichi Goto, Takashi Okada, Ken Inoue
Schematic diagram of the self-complementary AAV (scAAV) backbone plasmid (pscw.CNP.Venus.