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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 1996 Apr;37(5):766-74.

Adenovirus-mediated gene transfer of ornithine aminotransferase in cultured human retinal pigment epithelium.

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National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20895, USA.



To evaluate the efficacy of adenovirus mediated transfer of ornithine delta-aminotransferase (OAT) into human retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells.


Adenovirus-mediated gene transfer into primary cultures of human RPE was evaluated by measurement of enzyme activity in whole cell extracts and by Western blot analysis. To assess mitochondrial integrity, succinate dehydrogenase activity was measured in transduced RPE cells. Expression of adenovirus early genes was evaluated using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction.


OAT activity, which was 65 nmol/mg.hour in untransduced cells, could be increased to levels in excess of 20,000 nmol/mg.hour using an adenovirus vector carrying the OAT cDNA. There was, however, a significant reduction in succinate dehydrogenase activity associated with OAT activity greater than 12,000 nmol/mg.hour. Transduced human RPE displayed an altered morphology that appears to be a response to the vector because similar changes could be induced by an adenovirus vector that does not carry the OAT cDNA. Adenovirus early gene expression was detected in transduced RPE.


This study represents a first step in the development of intraocular gene replacement therapy for the treatment of gyrate atrophy. The authors demonstrate that adenovirus is an efficient vehicle for the delivery of OAT into human RPE and that RPE will tolerate greater than a 150-fold increase in OAT-specific activity. Evidence for disruption of mitochondria when OAT activity exceeds 12,000 nmol/mg.hour and vector-induced toxicity indicate that more controlled transgene expression and refinement of the vector systems is needed.

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