Author(s): Cideciyan AV, Hufnagel RB, Carroll J, Sumaroka A, Luo X, Schwartz SB, Dubra A, Land M, Michaelides M, Gardner JC, Hardcastle AJ, Moore AT, Sisk RA, Ahmed ZM, Kohl S, Wissinger B, Jacobson SG. Human cone visual pigment deletions spare sufficient photoreceptors to warrant gene therapy. Hum Gene Ther. 2013 Dec;24(12):993-1006. doi: 10.1089/hum.2013.153. Epub 2013 Oct 30. PMID 24067079
Journal: Human Gene Therapy, Volume 24, Issue 12, Dec 2013
Human X-linked blue-cone monochromacy (BCM), a disabling congenital visual disorder of cone photoreceptors, is a candidate disease for gene augmentation therapy. BCM is caused by either mutations in the red (OPN1LW) and green (OPN1MW) cone photoreceptor opsin gene array or large deletions encompassing portions of the gene array and upstream regulatory sequences that would predict a lack of red or green opsin expression. The fate of opsin-deficient cone cells is unknown. We know that rod opsin null mutant mice show rapid postnatal death of rod photoreceptors. Using in vivo histology with high-resolution retinal imaging, we studied a cohort of 20 BCM patients (age range 5-58) with large deletions in the red/green opsin gene array. Already in the first years of life, retinal structure was not normal: there was partial loss of photoreceptors across the central retina. Remaining cone cells had detectable outer segments that were abnormally shortened. Adaptive optics imaging confirmed the existence of inner segments at a spatial density greater than that expected for the residual blue cones. The evidence indicates that human cones in patients with deletions in the red/green opsin gene array can survive in reduced numbers with limited outer segment material, suggesting potential value of gene therapy for BCM.