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Gene Ther. 2005 Aug;12(15):1223-8.

Towards mutation-independent silencing of genes involved in retinal degeneration by RNA interference.

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Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah 84112-5330, USA.


More than one hundred different mutations in the gene encoding rhodopsin are associated with a group of retinal degenerations including retinitis pigmentosa, congenital stationary night blindness and retinitis punctata albescens. Given this large heterogeneity of mutations, it would be ideal to develop mutation-independent therapies for these diseases. We describe use of RNA interference (RNAi) and specifically short hairpin RNAs (shRNAs) expressed from DNA templates to silence both normal and mutant (P23H) human rhodopsin alleles by 94.34+/-2.17 and 94.9+/-1.9%, respectively, in human embryonic retinoblasts. Degeneracy of the genetic code was used to engineer a codon-exchanged mRNA (cmRNA) that demonstrated complete resistance to silencing by the shRNA. Simulation of autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa in cell culture through triple transfection of DNAs expressing a cmRNA, a P23H mRNA and an shRNA revealed shRNA-mediated silencing, specifically of P23H rhodopsin by 90.64+/-5.19% and no loss of rhodopsin translation from the cmRNA in those cells. In addition, we present data on two alternative shRNA sequences targeting human rhodopsin. Our results have implications for the treatment of a very large variety of retinal degenerations in a mutation-independent manner.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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