Complete congenital stationary night blindness (cCSNB) is an incurable inherited retinal disorder characterized by an ON-bipolar cell (ON-BC) defect. GRM6 mutations are the third most prevalent cause of cCSNB. The Grm6-/- mouse model mimics the human phenotype, showing no b-wave in the electroretinogram (ERG) and a loss of mGluR6 and other proteins of the same cascade at the outer plexiform layer (OPL). Our aim was to restore protein localization and function in Grm6-/- adult mice targeting specifically ON-BCs or the whole retina.
Adeno-associated virus-encoding Grm6 under two different promoters (GRM6-Grm6 and CAG-Grm6) were injected intravitreally in P15 Grm6-/- mice. ERG recordings at 2 and 4 months were performed in Grm6+/+, untreated and treated Grm6-/- mice. Similarly, immunolocalization studies were performed on retinal slices before or after treatment using antibodies against mGluR6, TRPM1, GPR179, RGS7, RGS11, Gβ5, and dystrophin.
Following treatment, mGluR6 was localized to the dendritic tips of ON-BCs when expressed with either promoter. The relocalization efficiency in mGluR6-transduced retinas at the OPL was 2.5% versus 11% when the GRM6-Grm6 and CAG-Grm6 were used, respectively. Albeit no functional rescue was seen in ERGs, relocalization of TRPM1, GPR179, and Gβ5 was also noted using both constructs. The restoration of the localization of RGS7, RGS11, and dystrophin was more obvious in retinas treated with GRM6-Grm6 than in retinas treated with CAG-Grm6.
Our findings show the potential of treating cCSNB with GRM6 mutations; however, it appears that the transduction rate must be improved to restore visual function.