Differential targeting of feline photoreceptors by recombinant adeno-associated viral vectors: Implications for preclinical gene therapy trials

Academic Article


  • The cat is emerging as a promising large animal model for preclinical testing of retinal dystrophy therapies, for example, by gene therapy. However, there is a paucity of studies investigating viral vector gene transfer to the feline retina. We therefore sought to study the tropism of recombinant adeno-associated viral (rAAV) vectors for the feline outer retina. We delivered four rAAV serotypes: rAAV2/2, rAAV2/5, rAAV2/8 and rAAV2/9, each expressing green fluorescent protein (GFP) under the control of a cytomegalovirus promoter, to the subretinal space in cats and, for comparison, mice. Cats were monitored for gene expression by in vivo imaging and cellular tropism was determined using immunohistochemistry. In cats, rAAV2/2, rAAV2/8 and rAAV2/9 vectors induced faster and stronger GFP expression than rAAV2/5 and all vectors transduced the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and photoreceptors. Unlike in mice, cone photoreceptors in the cat retina were more efficiently transduced than rod photoreceptors. In mice, rAAV2/2 only transduced the RPE whereas the other vectors also transduced rods and cones. These results highlight species differences in cellular tropism of rAAV vectors in the outer retina. We conclude that rAAV serotypes are suitable for use for retinal gene therapy in feline models, particularly when cone photoreceptors are the target cell.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Minella AL; Mowat FM; Willett KL; Sledge D; Bartoe JT; Bennett J; Petersen-Jones SM
  • Start Page

  • 913
  • End Page

  • 920
  • Volume

  • 21
  • Issue

  • 10