Abstract

Aromatic l-amino acid decarboxylase (AADC) deficiency is an inborn error of monoamine neurotransmitter synthesis, which results in dopamine, serotonin, epinephrine and norepinephrine deficiencies. The DDC gene founder mutation IVS6 + 4A > T is highly prevalent in Chinese patients with AADC deficiency. In this study, we designed several U1 snRNA vectors to adapt U1 snRNA binding sequences of the mutated DDC gene. We found that only the modified U1 snRNA (IVS-AAA) that completely matched both the intronic and exonic U1 binding sequences of the mutated DDC gene could correct splicing errors of either the mutated human DDC minigene or the mouse artificial splicing construct in vitro. We further injected an adeno-associated viral (AAV) vector to express IVS-AAA in the brain of a knock-in mouse model. This treatment was well tolerated and improved both the survival and brain dopamine and serotonin levels of mice with AADC deficiency. Therefore, mutation-adapted U1 snRNA gene therapy can be a promising method to treat genetic diseases caused by splicing errors, but the efficiency of such a treatment still needs improvements.

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