Oct 15, 2019

dCas9-Based Scn1a Gene Activation Restores Inhibitory Interneuron Excitability and Attenuates Seizures in Dravet Syndrome Mice

Molecular Therapy : the Journal of the American Society of Gene Therapy
Gaia ColasanteVania Broccoli


Dravet syndrome (DS) is a severe epileptic encephalopathy caused mainly by heterozygous loss-of-function mutations of the SCN1A gene, indicating haploinsufficiency as the pathogenic mechanism. Here we tested whether catalytically dead Cas9 (dCas9)-mediated Scn1a gene activation can rescue Scn1a haploinsufficiency in a mouse DS model and restore physiological levels of its gene product, the Nav1.1 voltage-gated sodium channel. We screened single guide RNAs (sgRNAs) for their ability to stimulate Scn1a transcription in association with the dCas9 activation system. We identified a specific sgRNA that increases Scn1a gene expression levels in cell lines and primary neurons with high specificity. Nav1.1 protein levels were augmented, as was the ability of wild-type immature GABAergic interneurons to fire action potentials. A similar enhancement of Scn1a transcription was achieved in mature DS interneurons, rescuing their ability to fire. To test the therapeutic potential of this approach, we delivered the Scn1a-dCas9 activation system to DS pups using adeno-associated viruses. Parvalbumin interneurons recovered their firing ability, and febrile seizures were significantly attenuated. Our results pave the way for exploiting dCas9-bas...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Voltage-Gated Sodium Channels
Infantile Severe Myoclonic Epilepsy
Adeno-Associated Virus
Transcription, Genetic
Gene Mutation
SCN1A gene
Encephalopathic Epilepsy

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