Purpose: Neurturin (NTN) is a potent neuronal survival factor in the central and peripheral nervous systems. We previously described altered expression of mRNAs for NTN and one of its receptor components, GFRα-2 in degenerative retinas of rd/rd mice. Towards assessing the potential for transfer of these genes to counteract retinal degeneration, we examined recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) constructs for expression of NTN and GFRα-2 transgenes in retinal cells in vitro and for the effect of transgene expression on retinal function following intraocular delivery in rd/rd mice. Methods: The rAAV constructs incorporated epitope tags to facilitate discrimination between transgenic and endogenous expression. Expression of murine NTN was driven by a CMV promoter and a partial murine opsin promoter was used to drive expression of human GFRα-2. rAAV preparations were used to infect mouse retinal cell cultures and for intraocular injection of predegenerative rd/rd mice. Endogenous and transgene expression was analyzed by immunofluorescence. Photoreceptor function in treated mice was assessed by electroretinography. Results: Both vectors delivered and expressed their transgenes in vitro and in vivo. Differential targeting was achieved in vivo through the use of alternative promoters. Under the conditions examined, no functional rescue of rd photoreceptors was observed. Conclusions: Therapeutic treatment of the rd model of retinal degeneration does not appear to be effected by simple modulation of the expression of NTN or GFRα-2, and may therefore depend on additional synergistic factors. Our AAV constructs will facilitate the development of combinatorial approaches to the treatment of central and peripheral neurodegenerations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-41
Number of pages6
JournalMolecular vision
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001


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