Activity analysis of housekeeping promoters using self-inactivating lentiviral vector delivery into the mouse retina.
For most retinal degeneration disorders, no efficient treatment exists to preserve photoreceptors (PRs) and, consequently, to maintain vision. Gene transfer appears to be a promising approach to prevent PR loss. In order to design adequate vectors to target specific retinal cell types, we have analyzed the expression pattern of three different promoters (mouse phosphoglycerate kinase 1 (PGK), elongation factor-1 (EFS), rhodopsin (Rho)) in newborn and adult DBA/2 mice retinas using self-inactivating lentiviral vectors. At 7 days after intraocular injection and in optimal conditions, cell transduction was observed up to 1.5 mm from the injection site. PGK promoter expression was predominant in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), especially in adult mice, whereas the EFS promoter allowed a broad expression in the retina. Finally, as expected, the Rho promoter was specifically expressed in PRs. Differences in the cell types transduced and in transduction efficiency were observed between newborn and adult injected eyes emphasizing the importance of such basic studies for further gene therapy approaches as well as for understanding the transcriptional changes during retinal maturation. Thus, for future attempts to slow or rescue retinal degeneration by lentiviral delivery, PGK and EFS are more suitable to control the expression of a supporting secreted factor, PGK being mainly expressed in RPE and EFS in different cell types throughout the entire retina, whereas Rho should allow to specifically deliver the therapeutic gene to PRs.