Molecular therapy : the journal of the American Society of Gene Therapy

Restoration of the majority of the visual spectrum by using modified Volvox channelrhodopsin-1.

PMID 24821344


We previously showed that blind rats whose vision was restored by gene transfer of Chlamydomonas channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2) could only detect wavelengths less than 540 nm because of the action spectrum of the transgene product. Volvox-derived channelrhodopsin-1, VChR1, has a broader spectrum than ChR2. However, the VChR1 protein was mainly localized in the cytoplasm and showed weak ion channel properties when the VChR1 gene was transfected into HEK293 cells. We generated modified Volvox channelrhodopsin-1 (mVChR1), which is a chimera of Volvox channelrhodopsin-1 and Chlamydomonas channelrhodopsin-1 and demonstrated increased plasma membrane integration and dramatic improvement in its channel properties. Under whole-cell patch clamp, mVChR1-expressing cells showed a photo-induced current upon stimulation at 468-640 nm. The evoked currents in mVChR1-expressing cells were ~30 times larger than those in VChR1-expressing cells. Genetically, blind rats expressing mVChR1 via an adeno-associated virus vector regained their visual responses to light with wavelengths between 468 and 640 nm and their recovered visual responses were maintained for a year. Thus, mVChR1 is a candidate gene for gene therapy for restoring vision, and gene delivery of mVChR1 may provide blind patients access to the majority of the visible light spectrum.