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Human gene therapy methods

Targeted excision of VCP R155H mutation by Cre-LoxP technology as a promising therapeutic strategy for valosin-containing protein disease.


PMID 25545721

Abstract

Inclusion body myopathy associated with Paget's disease of the bone and frontotemporal dementia is attributed to mutations in the valosin-containing protein (VCP) gene, mapped to chromosomal region 9p13.3-12. Affected individuals exhibit scapular winging and die from progressive muscle weakness and cardiac and respiratory failure in their 40s to 50s. Mutations in the VCP gene have also been associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in 10-15% of individuals with hereditary inclusion body myopathy and 2-3% of isolated familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Currently, there are no effective treatments for VCP-related myopathy or dementia. To determine the effects of targeted excision of the most common R155H mutation in VCP disease, we generated the Cre-ER™-VCPR155H/+ tamoxifen-inducible model. We administered tamoxifen (0.12 mg/g body weight) or corn oil (vehicle) to the pregnant dams by oral gavage and monitored survival and muscle strength measurements of the pups until 18 months of age. We confirmed efficient removal of exons 4 and 5 and recombination of the mutant/floxed VCP copies by Q-PCR analyses. The activity and specificity of Cre recombinase was confirmed by immunostaining. Herein, we report that Cre-ER™-VCPR155H/+ mice demonstrated improved muscle strength and quadriceps fibers architecture, autophagy signaling pathway, reduced brain neuropathology, decreased apoptosis, and less severe Paget-like bone changes. The Cre-ER™-VCPR155H/+ mouse model provides proof of principle by demonstrating that removal of the mutated exons could be beneficial to patients with VCP-related neurodegenerative diseases, and serves as an excellent platform in understanding the underlying pathophysiological mechanism(s) in the hopes of a promising therapeutic approach.

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