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The ability to deliver a large transgene efficiently to photoreceptors using viral vectors remains problematic and yet is critical for the future therapy of inherited retinal diseases such as Stargardt's and Usher's 1B. Herein, we examine the ocular tropism of a HIV-1-based lentivirus vector pseudotyped with Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus-derived glycoprotein (VEEV-G) after intraocular delivery to the posterior and anterior chambers of C57BL/6 wild-type mice. Reporter gene (EGFP) expression was evaluated using in vivo fluorescence imaging followed by postmortem immunohistochemistry and retinal function assessed by electroretinography. Intracameral administration of VEEV-G and vesicular stomatitis virus glycoprotein (VSV-G)-pseudotyped vectors resulted in robust transgene expression in the corneal endothelium and trabecular meshwork. After subretinal administration, onset of transgene expression was observed in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) 1 day postinjection with both VEEV-G and control VSV-G pseudotypes, but no significant photoreceptor transduction was apparent. Substantial degeneration of the outer nuclear layer was observed with VEEV-G-pseudotyped vector, which corresponded to ablation of retinal function. Subretinal administration of VSV-G was observed to result in significant suppression of electrophysiological function compared with buffer-injected and uninjected control eyes. Suppression of the c-wave amplitude, in addition to reduced RPE65 expression, indicated potential RPE dysfunction. Ex vivo tropism of VSV-G was assessed using organotypic culture of explanted retina harvested from wild-type mice and human patients undergoing retinal detachment surgery to examine the prevention of transduction by physical barriers and species differences in tropism.

Original publication




Journal article


Hum Gene Ther

Publication Date





50 - 62


Animals, Cell Line, Encephalitis Virus, Venezuelan Equine, Endothelium, Corneal, Gene Expression, Genes, Reporter, Genetic Vectors, Glycoproteins, Humans, Lentivirus, Mice, Photoreceptor Cells, Retina, Trabecular Meshwork, Transduction, Genetic, Transgenes, Vesicular stomatitis Indiana virus, Viral Envelope Proteins